COVID-19 Continues To Challenge Arizona's A-F School Accountability System

Published: Monday, November 16, 2020 - 6:37pm

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not clear if the state will be able to grade schools’ academic performances under its A-F School Accountability System for this academic year in the same way it has in the past.

The Arizona Legislature chose not to issue new grades and cancel statewide standardized tests for 2019-20 school year due the pandemic. The Trump administration waived federal requirements for these tests. 

While it's unknown what Arizona and federal lawmakers will decide for this school year but Bullhead City Elementary School District Superintendent Carolyn Stewart and others hope the board will support continuing these suspensions.

“The last thing educators and students need this year is the weight of a grade for their school sites or their districts, particularly when the elements that go into those grades are so far beyond their control,” Stewart said.

Board member Calvin Baker supports collecting student data without grades for schools.

“We need to look at the ugly, cold hard facts of what this pandemic is doing to student achievement,” he said.

The board’s chief accountability officer, Wendy Davy, said although there are many unknowns, including whether schools will even be able to hold in-person testing, it’s still a good idea to do as much assessment as possible. 

“That is what everyone is encouraging at the national level is to go ahead and continue to gather those data points, be aware of the challenges of them, and then use them appropriately to address the needs, especially subgroups or equity issues that may show up in the data,” she said.

The board expects to vote on a statement on what it supports at its next meeting, but state and federal lawmakers will have the final say.

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