A recent national study puts Arizona in the bottom 10 states for education, giving it a C-minus on its annual report card. But state officials say the report doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the status of education in the state.
Arizona ranks 44th in the country in the Quality Counts report, compiled each year by Education Week journalists working with the Education Research Center. The new rank represents a slight drop from its standing in last year’s report.
The low overall score could be attributed to the study’s non-education factors, says Andrew LeFevre, a spokesman with the Arizona Department of Education.
"Places like Massachusetts score higher because they have a higher percentage of parents that attended college, so they get high ranks in aspects that Arizona doesn’t rank high on,” he says.
Despite budget cuts, students in the state are testing above the national average, LeFevre says, and having a liberal open-enrollement policy allows students to attend schools that best suit them.
The study puts the state in 47th place in the "teaching profession" category, which reflects everything from how much is spent on teacher salaries to teachers' accountability for quality.
Frances Banales, president of the Tucson Education Association, says the state received a low ranking in this area because the study takes into consideration multiple factors, not just education quality.
“Like where the profession ranks in salary or where it ranks in longevity, or turnover,” she says. “So it may not have to do actually with instruction, rather than with these other factors in the teaching profession.”
The state with the highest score in the report was Maryland, but no state received an A.