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Arizona Opts for Dual Ranking System: One Report for Feds, Other to Locals

Arizona's schools will get two labels this fall: one to meet tough new federal requirements, the other to give schools credit for gains in overall performance.

On Tuesday, the Bush administration approved Arizona's dual system for school accountability, with both aiming for every child to be proficient in math and reading by the 2013-14 school year.

Arizona schools Superintendent Tom Horne was able to convince federal education officials that a dual ranking system is best for students in the state.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, a school would receive a pass or fail grade based on whether test scores for certain ethnic groups improved from one year to the next.

If even one group fails to improve, the school does not pass.

The second ranking system, favored by Arizona educators, creates five labels for schools, from excelling to failing. Under the state plan, schools would get credit based on overall improvement of test scores instead of improvement by one ethnic group or low-income children.

Additionally, state lawmakers in May agreed with Horne that schools should have one more year to catch up before being slapped with a failing label.

But even though the state eased rules for its labels, schools will still be subject to federal pass-fail labels in the fall.

"We thought in order to make it work, we needed flexibility," Horne said.

U.S. Undersecretary of Education Gene Hickok agreed, telling Horne, "You can do both. We look at what you are trying to do in Arizona and see how it can be wedded to No Child Left Behind."

The Bush administration also allowed the state to give special consideration to schools with many itinerant students. Those schools will be allowed to count only the scores of students who have been with them for more than a year.

— Monica Mendoza
Schools get system of dual labels
Arizona Republic
June 11, 2003


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