/ Modified jul 16, 2019 11:37 a.m.

National report says Arizona has made steady progress in education

More needs to be done, and the pace of improvement is too slow, education advocates say.

360 file kids at school A file image of two students walking on a campus in Pima County.
AZPM Staff

Gov. Doug Ducey is touting a national assessment that says Arizona schools made steady progress from 2005-2017 for fourth- and eighth-grade students in reading and math. Despite that, the state remains below the national average in student proficiency

The National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, gives a snapshot of how students are doing in each state every two years. Christine Thompson is the president and CEO of Expect More Arizona, a nonpartisan education organization. She says the news is good and should be celebrated, but that it's important to remember how far behind the state is and how much still needs to be done.

"If we look at the NAEP statistics, at the U.S. average, to have only 35% of students in fourth and eighth grade reading at grade level — that's unacceptable," she says. "And for Arizona to have 30% reading proficiently is unacceptable."

At the current rate, it would take decades for Arizona to get to full proficiency with all students performing at grade-level or higher, according to Thompson.

"It's in everyone's best interest," she says. "We need to do more to give our students the tools to be the workforce of tomorrow. Really making those investments today will pay dividends for decades into the future. "

She says with a healthy economy and budget surplus, this is the perfect time to invest strongly in increased pay for teachers and support staff, school infrastructure, and pre-k education to make sure the state has an educated workforce to carry it forward.

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