Arizona is known as “the wild west” of charter schooling: Anything goes. So who’s leading the move to evaluate charter schools and close low performers? The high-scoring charter operators in the Arizona Charter Schools Association.
Parents don’t have enough information to pull their kids out of ineffective schools, says Rebecca Gau, a researcher for the association who helped develop a data system to analyze student learning.
The state ranks schools based on the percentage of students passing the Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards test. But many experts think it fails to recognize the good work of some schools with a high share of low-income students. Many children come to those schools working below grade level and may make progress, but not enough to pass the AIMS test.
. . . The association turned to a growing state database that tracks AIMS scores for individual students every year. Researchers can use the data to determine how well groups of students performing at similar levels change over time, then compare schools on progress rates for each group.
The data is expected to be used by the state in reviews and charter renewal decisions. Schools that can’t meet short-term improvement goals will lose their charters.