Arizona Department of Education has school report cards, which represents the state’s website comprehensive school reporting system. The individual report offers information about schools, the district or the charter and their performance. They also hold information about demographics and other criteria useful for ranking or evaluating the conditions and performances of schools individually or against each other.
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Overall information data
There are 216 districts and 1,924 schools in the state. The number of students enrolled in the schools is 1,112,146, and there are 403 charter holders. Besides, Arizona has 525 charter schools and the total enrollment for charter schools is 157,438 (Arizona Department of Education, 2015). These data offer a glimpse of the size of the responsibility that the education department has and the number of direct stakeholders of the system.
It also paints a picture of the common forms of education institutions in the state. Specific report cards are available by School, District of charter holder and they can be searched on the Arizona Department of Education website. Besides, it is possible to have report cards of the annual performance of the Department, with the latest report being the 2013-2014 State Report Cards (State of Arizona, 2014). Overall data is useful to provide a context for analyzing specific data about Arizona’s education.
Performance and evaluation data
Data is availed under three categories namely students, educators, and schools. Students’ data offers information about the population of students in Arizona and it captures all students in all schools. The data can be interpreted concerning the number of the beneficiary for state programs on education. Besides, when looking for the distribution of majority and minority groups in the state and their access to education, the student data will offer the demographic characteristics necessary.
Primary demographics data
Within the breakdown of data about students in schools, districts and charter holders, there is information about race/ethnicity. For example, latest data in this category shows that majority of the students are Hispanic/Latino or White. Demographic data in itself if descriptive and when applied to other data, it helps to contextualize findings and offer meaning so that the data is more useful in layman interpretation and policy formulation.
Auxiliary demographics data
There are also auxiliary demographic details such as the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, the percentage of students limited in English proficiency and the number of migrant students. An additional auxiliary demographic detail is the number of student with a disability. The use of the demographic information in the two categories varies. First, policies concerning the equal distribution of education benefits will be closely matched to these demographic details. Second, the needs of a different group of students are addressed based on their population. Besides, teachers and parents may use the data to determine whether their students would benefit from particular elements of curricula that are sensitive to the student’s demographic details. The interpretation of performance result will also come in handy when considering these demographic features given that 52% of students in Arizona are economically disadvantaged (State of Arizona, 2014).
Graduation rates data sets
Graduation rates can be broken down into elementary and secondary data, specific subject data and specific grade data. The aim of education is to pass on skills and knowledge to students and the number of successful graduations through the system can measure this. Arizona maintains a report on the graduation rates for its students annually. The state reports four-year graduation rates for previous cohort years such that in the 2013-2014 report, the class of 2013 is the one reported with the performance taken from the 2012-2013 school year.
The graduation rates are also broken down by race/ethnicity to offer richer demographic details. Overall, graduation rates were 75% for the 2013-2014 period and breaking them down into respective ethnic groups allows comparison and makes it possible to identify groups that need further examination to identify problems.
Breakdown of the graduation data is available for American/Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, and Multiple Races. The graduation rate is also applied to the other auxiliary demographic details to enhance the meaningful representation and interpretation. Male and female percentages can be compared to determine whether affirmative action policies for either gender as working.
Besides, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency and those economically disadvantaged can be reviewed using this performance indicator to determine their additional needs or to show whether particular intervention measures implemented in the previous years have worked. Given that, the information is available on an annual basis; several years of performance can be reviewed to show a trend of graduation, enrollment, and overall changes in demographic characteristics for Arizona. Such information will they be used to make up new policies or justify the continuation of particular policies for enhancing the education in the state.
Students are also evaluated according to AIMIS results, which in summary provide performance details for mathematics, reading, science and writing. The results are for each grade starting with grade 3, and they relate to particular subjects being measured. Performance is presented concerning the previous year to show changes and to explain possible causes of the changes. A trend in performance also serves as valuable data to determine whether education standards are improving or deteriorating. The results come from formal testing and only give part of the picture about teaching delivery in schools.
The standardized test results for each subject and each grade are presented in various tables breaking down student details into demographics for each comparison. The intention is to show the number of students tested and the number of student exceeding, meeting, approaching or falling far below the accepted score for AIMS for each subject and grade level. The state department of education can use the information to evaluation the percent of passing students in specific categories and overall.
In fact, the AIMS test for a major part of the report card as they give a detailed performance for a particular year. Students can compare their performances with a particular group’s average. The tests also serve as indicators of special needs in education for different demographic groups. Policy makers and researchers can use them to determine the level of equality in the Arizona society or the distribution of education benefits.
National Assessment of Education Progress
The data under national assessment is also similar to the one for AIMIS, but offers a comparison of the performance of Arizona students with the rest of the country. It can be used separately or together with the AIMIS results to corroborate findings and support district or state level policies for enhancing the value of education. It serves as an indicator of the outcome of funds and other resources invested in education.
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Data about education is available for professional qualifications of public k-12 school teachers in Arizona. It shows that there are highly qualified teachers in all classes, in all elementary classes and all secondary classes. The data also offers the number of teachers reviewed for academic qualification. It provides information about the quality of teachers that are teaching students in Arizona public schools.
Therefore, the data is useful in informing the public about the quality state of Arizona public schools and can help to explain student results. A further breakdown of educators’ details according to demographics shows that over 97% of the core academic classes in high-poverty elementary and secondary classes gain from the teaching services of highly qualified teachers. This is an indicator of the state’s job in ensuring that economic disadvantage does not severely impact on quality of education received (Tomal, Wilhite, Phillips, Sims, & Gibson, 2015).
The state is accountable for its investment in education and conducts grading of schools using letters A to F to show their levels of performance. The level of performance is assigned directly based on school academic achievement and student growth, which all carry equal marks. Also, a school can get a grade F because it is seen as persistently being among the lowest-achieving schools. This ranking is in line with federal school accountability requirements for elementary and secondary education.
The information is collected annually and is useful for providing a rough estimate of a school’s performance against the average. It is also useful for initiative healthy competition among schools, which administrators use to gauge their involvement in programs and policies that help to increase student enrollment and student achievement. The information is most relevant to teachers, taxpayers, school administrators and public officials playing a role in the enhancement of overall education standards in Arizona. Recent grading shows that only 7% of public schools received Grade D and only 3% received grade F (State of Arizona, 2014).
Local education agencies
In addition to schools, local education agencies (LEA) also receive grades based on their performance as required by Arizona state law. Their grading also uses the A-F letter system. For the 2014 period, there were only A, B, C, D grades awarded and the highest percentage of LEAs receiving a single grade was 32% for grade B, while the least was 12% for grade D. besides, the number of LEAs for getting each grade is provided.
Additional details are available in separate reports on grading for both schools and LEA. The information ensures that the performance of a school or LEA can be compared, scrutinized based on resources allocated to justify demands for changes in funding, administration, allocation and other issues relating to state education. LEAs also use the grading to self-evaluate based on their goals and objectives for a particular year (Carr & Harris, 2009).
What additional information and data is important to make sound judgments in educational settings?
Information breaking down the acquisition of cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills for students is needed (Reeves, 2006). Thus, in addition to the quantitative reports offered, there is a need for ethnographic information that provides various levels of the additional information. It is important to show that students are receiving a holistic education rather than merely passing exams. A breakdown of funding for education is also important to determine the largest recipients within the system and their role in influencing outcomes of education. The role of technology should also be incorporated as a data source to help guide improvement suggestions for teaching delivery (Schielack & Knight, 2012).
Arizona Department of Education. (2015). Arizona report cards. Web.
Carr, J. F., & Harris, D. (Eds.). (2009). Improving standards-based learning: A process guide for educational leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Web.
Reeves, T. C. (2006). How do you know they are learning? The importance of alignment in higher education. International Journal Learning Technology, 2(4), 294-309. Web.
Schielack, J. F., & Knight, S. L. (Eds.). (2012). The new science education leadership: An IT-based learning ecology model. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Web.
State of Arizona. (2014). State report card. Department of Education, State of Arizona. Web.
Tomal, D. R., Wilhite, R. K., Phillips, B., Sims, P. A., & Gibson, N. (2015). Supervision and evaluation for learning and growth: Strategies for teacher and school leader improvement. Lanham, MD: Rownman & Littlefied. Web.