Public education in Arizona
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- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 Issues
- 12 School districts
- 13 Education ballot measures
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
- 16 Additional reading
- 17 References
List of school districts in Arizona
Public education in Arizona
School board elections portal
The Superintendent of Public Instruction is a publicly elected state official tasked with the following responsibilities:
- "Superintend the schools of this state."
- "Request the auditor general to investigate when necessary the accounts of school monies kept by any state, county or district officer."
- "Subject to supervision by the state board of education, apportion to the several counties the monies to which each county is entitled for the year. Apportionment shall be made as provided in chapter 9 of this title."
- "Direct the work of all employees of the board who shall be employees of the department of education."
- "Execute, under the direction of the state board of education, the policies which have been decided upon by the state board."
- "Direct the performance of executive, administrative or ministerial functions by the department of education or divisions or employees thereof."
- Superintendent of Public Instruction
- The president of a state university or college
- The president or chancellor of a community college
- Four lay members
- The owner or administrator of a charter school
- A high school superintendent
- A classroom teacher
- A county school superintendent
The mission statement of the Arizona State Board of Education reads:
|“||To aggressively set policies that foster excellence in public education.||”|
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Arizona State Board of Education adopted the standards on June 28, 2010. Full implementation was set to be achieved in the 2013-2014 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Arizona compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Arizona as reported in the Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Arizona's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||2,880||0.27%||0.42%|
|Two or more||17,101||1.58%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in Arizona attend city schools. Nearly 65 percent percent of the state's students attend city or suburban schools, compared to approximately 35 percent who attend rural or town schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural Schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), Arizona'a fourth and eighth graders fared worse in reading than the same students in Nevada and Utah.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Arizona was higher than the national average at 5 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 5.9 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Arizona
School choice options in Arizona include: charter schools, tax credits (individual and corporate), online learning programs and inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies. In addition, about 4.60 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Arizona state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 19 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 8.5 percentage points, or 30.9 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 27.5 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Arizona totaled approximately $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Arizona and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Arizona totaled approximately $9.6 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Arizona and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Arizona, the average salary decreased by 1.1 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Arizona ranked 51st overall, or "weakest," which was in the fifth of five tiers.
- See also: Arizona government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Arizona School Boards Association.
Other taxpayer-funded lobbyists for state public schools include:
- Arizona Association of County School Superintendents
- Arizona School Boards Association
- Arizona School Administrators Association
On June 25, 2009, an Arizona Senate committee approved SB 1172, which would have allowed the state education department to collect data on students who could not prove that they were U.S. citizens. According to the bill, schools or districts that did not provide the information would be denied funding. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, said that they would file suit if the bill became law. The ACLU argued that the bill violated federal law (which bans collecting data with the intent of denying enrollment). Sen. Russell Pearce said that the bill was merely an effort to increase transparency. "All this is asking for is data. We passed a lot of bills out of here about transparency and disclosure this year. This is along the same line as that -- it says simply that the taxpayer has a right to know," he said.
The bill did not become law in the 2009 legislative session, though some lobbyists said that they expected the bill would return for debate in the next session.
Studies and reports
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 used six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Arizona received a score of 70.2, or a C- average in the "chance for success" category. This was below the national average. The state's highest score was in standards, assessments and accountability at 87.6, or a B+ average. The lowest score was in the teaching profession at 62.4, or a D- average. With the exception of the standards, assessments and accountability category, Arizona performed below the country's average in every category. The chart below displays the scores of Arizona and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Arizona||70.2 (C-)||66.6 (D+)||87.6 (B+)||62.4 (D-)||66.8 (D+)||78.6 (C+)|
|Nevada||65.7 (D)||66.7 (D+)||75.4 (C)||71.0 (C-)||64.5 (D)||75.0 (C)|
|New Mexico||66.6 (D+)||60.3 (D-)||92.0 (A-)||74.3 (C)||70.5 (C-)||89.3 (B+)|
|Utah||79.1 (C+)||69.1 (D+)||81.7 (B-)||64.5 (D)||65.2 (D)||89.3 (B+)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
Funding for school-safety resource officers
New funding for school-safety resource officers has been awarded to 137 school sites in 32 Arizona school districts. The Arizona State Legislature approved $12 million dollars for the project, $7 million of which came from Proposition 301, a sales tax for education that was approved by voters in 2000. Many of the awarded sites received funding for a school officer for the first time, and many others had their funding renewed. Three juvenile probation officer positions were also included in the funding.
In order to receive funding, schools had to apply to the Arizona Department of Education. The schools were then ranked according to scores from a need-based formula, and the highest-scoring schools were given funding.
- See also: School board elections portal
Arizona contains multiple types of school districts, including: common school districts, joint common school districts, joint technological education districts, joint unified school districts, unified school districts and union high school districts.
- See also: List of school districts in Arizona
The following table displays the state's top 10 school districts by total student enrollment and the top 10 school districts by per-pupil spending.
|Student enrollment, 2011-2012||Per-pupil spending, 2011-2012|
|1.) Mesa Public Schools||1.) Rainbow Accommodation School|
|2.) Tucson Unified School District||2.) Vernon Elementary School District 9|
|3.) Chandler Unified School District||3.) Colorado City Unified School District|
|4.) Gilbert Public Schools||4.) Sentinel Elementary School District 71|
|5.) Peoria Unified School District||5.) Valley Vocational Services|
|6.) Deer Valley Unified School District||6.) Crown King Elementary School District 41|
|7.) Paradise Valley Unified School District||7.) Mobile Elementary School District 86|
|8.) Scottsdale Unified School District||8.) Cedar Unified School District 25|
|9.) Phoenix Union High School District||9.) Yarnell Elementary School District 52|
|10.) Dysart Unified School District||10.) J. O. Combs Elementary School District 44|
School board composition
School board members are generally elected by residents of the school district. If there is a vacancy on the school board, the county school superintendent has the right to appoint a member to the school board. The term of the appointment will be until the next regular election for school board members, and then a member will be elected by residents of the school district. School boards must have at least three members, but school districts can increase the school board to five members. School board members serve four-year terms.
Arizona does not limit the number of terms a school board member may serve.
No top enrollment districts in Arizona are scheduled to hold elections in 2015.
Path to the ballot
To qualify for the ballot as a school board candidate, an individual must be:
- A resident of the school district for at least one year
- A registered voter in Arizona
Candidates cannot be employed by the school district they are running to represent, cannot be a current member of another school board and cannot be related to a member of the school board who has served in the last four years.
Before accepting contributions, making expenditures, distributing campaign literature or circulating petitions, candidates must file a Statement of Organization form or a $500 Threshold Exemption Statement with the county elections department. The $500 Threshold Exemption Statement can only be filed if a candidate does not intend on spending or accepting contributions in excess of $500, including the candidate's own money. If funds are received or spent in excess of $500 after filing the $500 Threshold Exemption Statement, the candidate must file a Statement of Organization within five days. If a candidate files a Statement of Organization, he or she must file regular campaign finance reports with the county elections department.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Arizona Department of Public Schools, Proposition 3 (September 1953)
- Arizona Education Board Composition Amendment, Proposition 101 (1964)
- Arizona Election of State Board of Education, Proposition 3 (1950)
- Arizona English Language Education for Children in Public Schools, Proposition 203 (2000)
- Arizona Establishing Classroom Improvement Program, Proposition 103 (1990)
- Arizona Excise Tax for School Maintenance, Proposition 7 (1950)
- Arizona Expenditure Limitations for School Districts, Proposition 101 (1986)
- Arizona First Things First for Children, Proposition 203 (2006)
- Arizona Increased Salaries of Teachers and Public Officials, Proposition 3 (1920)
- Arizona International Teachers' Exchange Program, Proposition 1 (1956)
- Arizona Name of Arizona State University, Proposition 1 (1958)
- Arizona Physical Education in Public Schools, Proposition 5 (1928)
- Arizona Proceeds from Sale of State Lands for Schools, Proposition 104 (2002)
- Arizona Prohibition of Racially Segregated Schools, Proposition 13 (1950)
- Arizona Public Debt, Revenue and Taxation, Proposition 102 (2004)
- Arizona Regents of the Universities Amendment, Proposition 103 (1976)
- Arizona Removal of School Attendance Requirement for State Money, Proposition 4 (September 1953)
- Arizona Sales Tax Renewal Amendment, Proposition 204 (2012)
- Arizona Sales Tax for Education, Proposition 301 (2000)
- Arizona School District Debt Amendment, Proposition 106 (1992)
- Arizona School District Debt Limit Amendment, Proposition 103 (1974)
- Arizona State Aid for Public Education, Proposition 10 (1940)
- Arizona State Board of Education, Proposition 105 (2004)
- Arizona State Board of Education Amendment, Proposition 102 (1976)
- Arizona State Board of Education Formation Amendment, Proposition 104 (1982)
- Arizona State Lands, Proposition 100 (2000)
- Arizona State Maintenance of Public Schools, Proposition 2 (1950)
- Arizona State School Fund, Amendment 103 (1964)
- Arizona State School Trust Land Revenues, Proposition 300 (2002)
- Arizona Tuition Increase Limits Initiative (2016)
- Arizona Uniform Public School System, Proposition 2 (1922)
- Arizona University Faculty Exemptions Amendment, Proposition 100 (1960)
- Arizona Vote on School District Consolidation Act (2008)
- Arizona state budget and finances
- Arizona Department of Education
- List of school districts in Arizona
- School choice in Arizona
- Charter schools in Arizona
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Arizona Department of Education
- Arizona State Board of Education
- Arizona School District Websites
- Arizona Academic Standards
- Arizona School Report Cards
- Arizona School Finance
- Arizona State Board for Charter Schools
- Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed July 8, 2009
- Arizona Capitol Times, "Supreme Court: School strip search unconstitutional," June 25, 2009
- Arizona Central, "Law tracking illegal students fails, but could return," July 1, 2009
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- Arizona Department of Education, "About AZ Dept. Education," accessed May 13, 2014
- Arizona Department of Education, "State Board of Education," accessed May 13, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State,” accessed June 12, 2014
- Arizona Department of Education, "Arizona's College and Career Ready Standards (AZCCRS) Home Page," accessed June 13, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- KTAR, "Bill would have schools collect info on illegals," June 25, 2009
- Arizona Central, "Law tracking illegal students fails, but could return," July 1, 2009
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- AZ Central, "$12 million OK'd for school officers in 32 districts," June 24, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Arizona," accessed July 8, 2014
- Homesurfer, "School District Ranking Report," accessed July 8, 2014
- Arizona Revised Statutes, "Title 15, Section 302," accessed July 8, 2014
- Arizona Revised Statutes, "Title 15, Section 424," accessed July 8, 2014
- Osborn School District, "Governing Board," accessed July 8, 2014
- Arizona Revised Statutes, "Title 15, Section 421," accessed July 8, 2014
- Maricopa County, "Candidate/Campaign Information Center," accessed July 8, 2014
- Maricopa County, "$500 Threshold Exemption Statement," accessed July 8, 2014
State of Arizona
|State executive officers||
Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | Superintendent of Public Instruction | Director of Insurance | Director of Agriculture | Commissioner of Lands | Director of Labor | Chairman of Corporation Commission | State Mine Inspector |