Arizona's Education Poor, and the Future's Not Bright, According to Report

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kathryn via Flickr


Less than half of Arizona students meet the standards for attending Arizona universities, according to a recent report.

The "Arizona Minority Student Progress Report 2013" prepared by the University of Arizona's Center for Education also cites a warning from Arizona State University's Morrison Institute: "Arizona is at risk of becoming a second-tier state, educationally and economically."

To qualify for university standards, students typically must meet the Arizona Board of Regents' "sweet sixteen" core courses. It includes four years of English, four years of math, three years of lab sciences, two years of social studies, two years of the same foreign language, and one year of fine art, all with a grade of "C" or better. Students must have around a "B" average overall to be considered university-ready.

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Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center
While less than half of Arizona students meet this standard, those eligible for universities are lower among minorities. The study partly attributes this to a lack of diversity and cultural training among teachers, as well as fewer opportunities. But as Arizona's minority levels rise, those numbers are in danger of dropping even lower. Fifty-seven percent of students in grades P-12 are of an ethnicity other than white, and in 2012, Hispanics passed whites as the largest ethnic group in P-7 classrooms. According to the report, if little progress is made on students meeting university requirements and less Arizonans receive some form of higher education, the state could eventually face serious economic troubles.

Although students in urban counties are more likely to have taken the necessary classes required for universities, Pima County is the only county where over half of the students are eligible, as of 2009. Eligibility in Maricopa County is split exactly, and the average number of university-eligible students in the rest of Arizona's counties doesn't even hit 40 percent. According to the report, if little progress is made on students meeting university requirements and less Arizonans receive some form of higher education, the state could eventually face serious economic troubles.

Center for Education professor Jeffrey F. Milem, a researcher on this report, says one of the reasons college eligibility among students is so low is because education isn't a top priority in Arizona.

"It has a lot to do with the extent to which we support or don't support public education and provide the opportunity kids need to learn, because some schools don't even offer courses [the student] need," Milem says. "It's a reflection largely on very deep and vexing educational issues across the state."

Arizona's educational problems are nothing new. The state has consistently scored near the bottom of Education Week's annual state education rankings, most recently receiving in January a dismal K-12 Achievement score of D+. Although the "Chance for Success" rate was a slightly higher C-, Arizona placed 47th out of 51 (the survey also included Washington, D.C.)

The students are not the only ones receiving low scores. According to the Center of Education report, less than 43 percent of Arizona teachers meet the federal standards of a "highly qualified teacher" as of 2012. The standards consist of a state license or certificate, a bachelor's degree from a four year institution, and demonstrating competence in each subject in which the teacher teaches.

To help better train the teachers, the report suggests teaching educators to better meet the needs of minority students, especially those whose first language is not English. Other recommendations include setting specific goals to close the disparities between white and minority students, and restoring and creating new financial aid programs. But according to Milem, Arizona doesn't have time to waste.

"Impact occurs over time," Milem says. "If we really want to make an impact, we need to take this on now and make changes to address these concerns."

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.


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6 comments
armandocdll81
armandocdll81

The more illiterate simpletons you let seep through the border the vaster your ocean of poverty and squalor shall become. Time to plug the holes in the boat and start bailing out the the developing world's rejects. 

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

Keep-em stupid is the Arizona motto, how else would these asshole politicians get elected here.

DJenningsPHX
DJenningsPHX

This has been studied and the results show a cultural problem where Spanish and Ebonics are used in the home rather than proper English. Kids raised in these environments have a much harder time learning and progressing which puts a huge burden on our school system. If we could blame economics, we would, but poor white children are still scoring at higher levels academically than minorities. So how do we fix this problem? If we take a chance and throw more money and bodies at it in the form of teachers and tutors, we could possibly reverse the trend. If the young kid who is struggling is taught how to speak correctly and read, then maybe when they have children, they can give them what their parents were unable to and break the cycle. If we need to look for a place to pull money from, the failed drug war is a good start.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

I read this report as saying "A lot of Hispanic kids give up on education before they finish high school".  This is neither news nor an indictment of our schools.  It's what you expect of students who've never had an English language book read to them before they start school.


fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@valleynative  Regardless of liberal denial, this is one of the major manifestations of effectively unregulated open borders.  

Illegals do not pay property taxes and therefore do not contribute financially to the school systems.  Illegal kids are born in a foreign country  speaking a different language and most likely have dirt poor, uneducated parents.  Throw a very large number of these kids into our school systems and the results are not surprising.    

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