VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 42   | OCTOBER 19 – 25, 2011

OCTOBER 19, 2011

Statement of Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal on the release of Arizona’s new A-F Accountability Letter Grades

az dept of educationOctober 12, 2011 – Over the past 10 months I have traveled all over our great state speaking and listening to the public on a wide range of education issues.  One thing that I have heard time and again from parents is that they wanted to know how they could find out just how well their child’s school was doing in providing a quality education.

With the new accounting system, parents will now have an easy-to-understand letter grade system they can use to help make an informed decision about their child’s educational career.

And for the first time districts will receive a letter grade for their academic performance so that parents and community members can hold school boards accountable and, in turn, school boards can hold superintendents accountable.

We believe the A-F letter grade system is a game changer that will be a powerful driver of improving education in Arizona for years to come.

When Florida passed and implemented their A-F school grades they combined both student growth and performance on their state test.  This 50/50 mix produces the most dramatic improvement on the National Assessment of Education Progress test that has ever been seen. Florida reduced the percentage of student illiteracy by more than half.

Parents are demanding transparency and accountability for their children’s schools. That is why I championed the A-F accountability Letter Grades last year. That is why my fellow legislators supported the bills. That is why Governor Brewer signed it into law.  And that is why my friend and colleague Board President Molera is standing with me today.

We have to know how schools and school districts are academically performing in order to know when and in what areas to help them improve.

The new A-F Accountability Letter Grade System is based on a more sound scientifically based approach of using both student AIMS scores and their academic growth from year to year.  Particularly focusing on the academic growth of the bottom 25 percent of students.
The whole point of the A-F system was to create a system with enough rigor to drive the need for improvement. In other states that have implemented clear, easy to understand, rigorous accountability systems school that are indentified as low performing (Ds and Fs) find the will and a way to quickly improve.

I want to explain the Department’s role in helping schools that are identified as low performing in the new A-F Letter Grade System.  The Department is here to provide guidance and resources to help low performing schools improve.  Over the coming weeks, members of ADE will be traveling around the state to help educate teachers and administrators on how to use the information provided by the new A-F letter grade system to identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement.

The new A-F Letter Grade System will also help us identify and highlight high performing schools so that we can delve into their best practices to learn what is working to improve student’s academic performance.

Our intent is to help low performing schools learn from these successes and then use this knowledge to drive student improvement in their own classrooms.

With this change we are establishing the high standards and high expectations necessary to achieve high results.

Our parents deserve nothing less.