ARIZONA EDUCATION NEWS
January 2006

IN THIS ISSUE:
SUPERINTENDENT HORNE APPEALS FLORES DECISION; MOVES FOR STAY OF ENFORCEMENT
 
State School Superintendent Tom Horne has appealed both aspects of the Flores decision: the order exempting English language learners from passing the AIMS test to graduate, and the order imposing sanctions on the state until legislation is passed increasing funding for English language learners. Simultaneously, Motions to Stay the enforcement of both orders were filed with the trial court, a necessary precondition to seeking a stay from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The motions included many of the arguments ultimately to be included in the appellate briefs.  Horne stated the following:

Both motions raise constitutional arguments that the Court does not have jurisdiction to dictate education policy to the state of Arizona. While it is good policy to ensure that everything is being done to teach English to English language learners as quickly as possible, this is properly a legislative function; details of education policy should not be dictated to the state by a federal court. Among the bases raised are the 10th, 11th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. The 10th Amendment reserves to the states those powers, which should include the details of education policy, not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. The 11th Amendment prohibits suits against states in federal courts. The 14th Amendment, which was the purported bases for the statute relied upon by the court, requires equal treatment, and cannot be used to require that one group of students receive favorable treatment over another. Indeed, applying lower standards to English language learners than to other students is the opposite of preferential treatment.
 
The Flores Decision
 
from The Arizona Republic:
 
U.S. District Judge Raner Collins ordered lawmakers and Gov. Janet Napolitano to come up with a financial plan by late January to help educate students struggling to learn English or be fined $500,000 a day. The penalty could rise to $2 million a day if they fail to act.

Collins also ruled that English-language learners do not have to pass the state's exit exam, AIMS, to graduate from high school until their education is funded and working adequately. That would likely exempt them through at least spring 2007 and possibly beyond. . . .

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said he will work with lawmakers to meet Collins' demands but also plans to ask a federal appeals court to block the sanctions . . .
 
In his ruling, Collins said he "can only imagine how many students have started school" since the court deemed state funding for English learners to be arbitrary and inadequate in February 2000.

"How many students may have stopped school, by dropping out or failing, because of foot-dragging by the state and its failure to comply with the original order?" Collins wrote. . . .

The ruling is the latest in a class-action lawsuit, Flores v. Arizona, that was filed on behalf of a Nogales family in 1992. Last spring, lawmakers missed what was supposed to have been the judge's final deadline . . .
 
Read more about the Flores case by clicking here.

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RESEARCHERS FIND FLAWS, INCONSISTENCIES IN ARIZONA'S EDUCATION POLICIES, OFFER RECOMMENDATIONS
 
For the second consecutive year, researchers from Arizona's public universities studied several facets of the state's education policies. This year's report, a collection of ten policy briefs, is the first study to present the comprehensive impact of federal and state accountability policies in Arizona.
 
The report highlights contradictions between Arizona's accountability policies and local and federal legislation; the difficulties with implementing these policies; and the impact on teachers, students, and parents. Each policy brief offers recommendations for understanding and alleviating these problems. Nearly all of the briefs echoed the 2004 report's key finding: Adequate data needed to make important policy decisions were severely lacking. This year's findings are:
The structured English immersion method of educating English language learners (ELLs) is indefensible in terms of the research and data reviewed for this report. Given the lack of a research base, the authors recommend that the Arizona State Legislature commission a scientifically rigorous evaluation study of Proposition 203, a voter-initiated action that mandated children in Arizona public schools be taught English by being taught in English.
Test data show that African-American, Hispanic, and Native-American students continue to trail far behind their White and Asian counterparts. Dropout data reveal that a significantly higher percentage of African-American, Hispanic, and Native-American students drop out of school than do White or Asian students. The dropout data collected reveal neither the motive nor rationale for the students' actions, making it impossible for the lack of minority participation to be explained or resolved.
The education policies promoted by the Arizona State Legislature appear to be focused on (1) restricting funds for core instructional purposes to the greatest possible degree and (2) financially promoting a competitive system that offers alternatives (i.e., charter schools, vouchers, tax credits) to traditional public schools. The current method of education funding in Arizona is likely to perpetuate existing achievement gaps.
Instead of the Standford 9, AZ LEARNS will now administer the TerraNova standardized exams to grades 2 through 9 to compare Arizona test scores with those of other states. The TerraNova has questionable validity for its intended purpose and contributes little to the assessment of student learning in Arizona.
There is a weak relationship between AZ LEARNS accountability labels (e.g., "Performing," "Underperforming," "Failing") and school test scores on AIMS (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards). This inconsistency calls into question how well the system accurately aids parents in school-choice decisions.
NCLB's achievement goals are focused on implementing blanket academic goals for special education students, which conflicts with the demands of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA calls for differentiated instruction based on an individual student's needs.
Administrative costs have declined since 2001 and are below national and state averages. The trend of hiring leased employees—retired administrators who return for a fraction of their salary while still collecting their pension—has implications for the cost of lost innovation and for the cost to the state's retirement system.
Due to missing or contradictory data, there are a number of key facts Arizonans do not know: (1) Arizona's dropout rate, (2) the exact number of charter holders, (3) the number of charter schools, (4) the average size of charter schools, (5) the number of Arizona's public school students attending charter schools, (6) the ethnic composition of Arizona's charter school population, (7) the number of ELLs in Arizona's charter schools, (8) the number of charter school teachers, (9) the ethnic and gender composition, and years of experience of charter school teachers, and (10) the number of charter school administrators.
While the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has begun to close the technology gap by wiring schools for the Internet and providing computers, the technological professional development offered by the state for teachers is inadequate.
With the implementation of structured English immersion and the changes to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), teachers and caregivers are required to obtain additional certification and receive more professional development. ECEC could experience a shortage of qualified personnel should current caregivers be unable to dedicate the time or money to become certified.
Policy makers are focused on strengthening and expanding ECEC services to include fully-funded, full-day kindergarten and to improve the quality and capacity of ECEC. The data needed to guide ECEC policy decisions, however, are nonexistent.

Find the complete report, click here.

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ARIZONA TEACHER IS THE WINNER OF THE NATIONAL CAREER TECHNICAL EDUCATION 2006 TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD
 
After extensive interviews at the national level, a national review of all the nomination credentials, and letters of reference, Kevin English, an agriculture teacher from Peoria High School in the Peoria Unified School District, was announced as the National ACTE Career Technical Education Teacher of the Year. This award was presented in front of over 3,800 attendees at the National ACTE Conference at the Kansas City Convention Center.
 
Kevin will be highlighted as the ACTE National Teacher of the Year during 2006 and will be invited to do presentations on behalf of Career Technical Education Teachers nationwide.
 
The road to the national title took over two years and was extremely competitive. The process was as follows:
 
Kevin English was the recipient of the ACTEAZ (Association Career Technical Education of Arizona) "Teacher of the Year Award" in July 2004. This award was presented at the Arizona Career Technical Education Summer Conference after reviewing all the nominations submitted from applicants across the state of Arizona.
 
As the winner from Arizona, Kevin competed for the ACTE Region V Award in Mandan, North Dakota in April 2005. ACTE Region V is comprised of fifteen states and four American Territories. Kevin won the "Region V Teacher of the Year" Award and that made him eligible to compete for the ACTE National Title.

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CHARTER SCHOOLS GET HIGH MARKS

In national assessments of public school students, charter schools showed more improvement in both reading and math between the 2003 and 2005 tests. In reading, charter schools improved four points, while conventional public schools remained stagnant. This caused an increase in the percentage of charter students achieving proficiency, while those students in conventional schools showed no change since 2003. Charter schools typically attract a higher proportion of at-risk children. At the 8th-grade level, a full 60 percent of students in charter schools are minorities, showing that charter students come from backgrounds that have traditionally been under-served. While the present difference in scores is statistically insignificant, it will become all the more significant because charter schools are showing more improvement over time, while conventional public schools continue to show little or no such change. 
 
While the final numbers are still being tabulated in Arizona, the findings of one major study suggest a continued pattern of success. Fourth-grade students attending charter schools are 9.6 percent more likely to be proficient in reading and 10.3 percent more likely to be proficient in mathematics than their conventional school counterparts (based on state AIMS tests).

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STUDY SHOWS EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT GENDER GAP GROWING—BOYS FALLING BEHIND
   
The large academic achievement gap between males and females is growing significantly decreased, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Education.
 
In elementary school, female fourth-graders outperformed their male peers in reading (2003) and writing (2002) assessments. Gender differences in mathematics achievement have been small and fluctuated slightly between 1990 and 2003. At the secondary school level, the gap in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading achievement grew from ten points in 1992 to 16 points in 2002, with males performing lower than females. Females entering college baccalaureate programs were more likely than their male counterparts to graduate within six years. In 2001, the overall participation rate of females in adult education was higher than that of their male peers (53 percent vs. 46 percent).  Other findings are that:
"It is clear that girls are taking education very seriously and that they have made tremendous strides," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "The issue now is that boys seem to be falling behind. We need to spend some time researching the problem so that we can give boys the support to succeed academically."
   
To download or view the report, please click here.

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ACCESS THE EDUCATION COUNTS DATABASE TO BUILD CUSTOM TABLES, CHARTS, AND MAPS USING "QUALITY COUNTS 2006" DATA
   
For the 10th edition of "Quality Counts," the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey, conducted a series of special analyses of NAEP scores between 1992 and 2005. The analyses highlight how each state's improvement over the past decade compares with the performance of the nation as a whole. The report also takes a much closer look than previous studies have at which states have most significantly progressed in closing achievement gaps between black and white, Hispanic and white, and poor and non-poor students. The results in mathematics are particularly encouraging. Nationally, NAEP scores in 4th-grade math have increased by 18.5 points on a 500-point scale, or nearly two grade levels, since 1992, near the start of the standards movement. Grade 8 math performance improved by 10.7 points.
 
"Quality Counts" is available free of charge for a limited time. A paid subscription will be required to view the entire report online after February 4. The online version of "Quality Counts 2006" provides features to help users navigate the report's rich content and find the data they need quickly and easily. Each feature story includes links to key sources and organizations. In addition, users can quickly access each state's policy report card using an interactive state map. A special data-analysis feature enables users to review all indicators for a single state or compare results across two or more states. Fifty-state data tables are downloadable in PDF and Excel formats.
 
"Quality Counts 2006" is located by clicking here.

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FREE STUDENT WORKBOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PREVIEW (Advertisement)
 
Queue, Inc. offers previews of its Arizona test preparation workbooks to public schools.  Queue publishes test prep books in Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Composition for Grades 3-high school, as well as Practice Tests in Math.
 
Queue also offers Math and Reading workbooks for grades 1 and 2, and publishes a wide variety of other workbooks in Literature, Science, History, Government, Health, and ESL.  Samples of student workbooks are available for preview.
 
For further information and to order free previews, click here to visit our Arizona Workbooks webpage.

or call: 800-232-2224
 
or fax: 800-775-2729
 
or e-mail: jdk@queueinc.com
 
or write: Queue, Inc., 1 Controls Dr., Shelton, CT 06484
 
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