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Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessments
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There is a wide gap between the diversity of teachers in Arizona and the students they teach.

While people of color make up 64% of the state's 1.1 million K-12 students, just 26% of teachers are people of color.

Latinos make up the largest demographic share of students in Arizona at 47%, compared with 16% of teachers who are Hispanic, according to an analysis of state teacher and student data by The Arizona Republic.

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Here are some solutions to help close the teacher diversity gap recommended by Daniel Liou and Stephanie Parra. Liou is an associate professor of educational leadership at Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Parra is executive director of Arizona Latino Leaders in Education, a nonprofit focused on raising academic achievement for Latino students in Arizona.

Recruit more students of color to become teachers

Schools and school districts need to become more intentional about recruiting, hiring and retaining good teachers from diverse backgrounds. Universities, which serve as the main pipeline for new teachers, also need to become more intentional about recruiting students with diverse race, gender, class, linguistic and immigration backgrounds that reflect the student population of the state, Liou said. ASU recently created an early childhood education program that recruits indigenous students and students interested in teaching in indigenous communities, Liou said.

Increase teacher preparation programs at community colleges

Most schools of education are housed at four-year universities such as ASU, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. But there should be more teacher preparation programs at two-year community colleges. Students who complete teacher preparation programs at community colleges could then transfer to universities to complete their teaching degrees.

"One of the strategies to think about is having intensive recruitment and mentorship at the community colleges, because their (student) populations tend to be a lot more diverse, and then provide them with the opportunity to transfer to a four-year university with the intention of graduating with a teaching degree," Liou said.

Expand alternative pathways to teaching

A teacher shortage crisis has forced schools to recruit college graduates without teaching degrees to become classroom teachers. They then earn their teaching certification or teaching degree on the job. The alternative pathways provide an opportunity to recruit more people of color with college degrees to become teachers, Parra said. The Arizona Teachers Academy, which Gov. Doug Ducey created in 2017 to tackle the teacher shortage, waives the college tuition and fees of students who commit to teaching in Arizona schools. This opportunity needs to be widely promoted, including to people of color interested in becoming teachers, Parra said.

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'Grow your own' programs

Some school districts are creating programs to "grow their own teachers." The Phoenix Union High School District plans to open a new high school in 2023 to supply students a head start for a career in education. Students who graduate from the Phoenix Educator Preparatory will have earned a high school diploma and a two-year associate degree, putting them on track to receive a four-year bachelor's degree in education in three years, cutting down on the cost of a teaching degree.

Pay teachers more

The average starting teacher salary in Arizona is $40,554, which ranks 27th among states, according to the National Education Association. The average teacher salary in Arizona, however, is $52,157, and ranks near the bottom at 44th among states. Teachers in Arizona earn 68 cents for every dollar earned by college-educated professionals with similar experience.

Some school districts have raised salaries to attract more teachers, including teachers of color. Mesa Public Schools' base starting salary is $53,500, among the highest starting teacher salaries in the state, according to school officials.

"We have to simultaneously continue to make sure that the teaching profession is earning a respectable wage and and that it is a field that remains competitive for the amount of certifications and degree requirements that we have for these professionals. They are consistently underpaid when you look at other college-required professions," Parra said.

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Diversify school leaders

The responsibility of recruiting, hiring and retaining more teachers of color rests in the hands of school leaders, which is why there also has to be more diversity among school administrators, principals, superintendents and school boards, Liou said. In Arizona, only about 10% of school superintendents are Latinos. "Diversification of our school leadership can further support teachers of color, providing that day-to-day mentoring," Liou said.

Better mentorship

Liou recommends schools create three- to five-year "induction academies" to provide coaching and mentorship to teachers, especially teachers and principals of color. Teachers of color are more likely to work in school districts with higher poverty and higher minority student populations than white teachers, which can lead to higher burnout and turnover.

"Many teachers of color are without appropriate mentorship that helps to keep them in the profession," Liou said.

Partner with Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

When Liou was a faculty member at Iowa State University, he learned how a school district in Waterloo, Iowa, had partnered with Lincoln University, an HBCU in Pennsylvania, to recruit and hire Black teachers. ASU was designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2022 after its Latino undergraduate student population surpassed the 25% threshold, joining the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, which already had achieved the milestone.

"That's one of the strategies to consider, is to actively partner with Hispanic-Serving Institutions and HBCUs around these issues" of teacher diversification, Liou said.

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Respect teachers and the profession

Teaching is not easy. The job is physically and emotionally demanding. Besides standing in front of a classroom of students all day, teachers also spend hours before and after school and on weekends preparing lesson plans. They often spend large sums of money on classroom supplies out of their own pocket. But teachers are often the targets of disparaging rhetoric by elected officials and political leaders, Parra said.

Teachers deserve the "utmost respect, and we need to treat these people as the professionals that they deserve to be treated as," Parra said. "Ultimately, a lot of people have left the profession because they don't feel respected by leaders. Whether you're leading a system or whether you're leading the state, it's important for people to be mindful of how their rhetoric will impact our ability to attract and retain educators in Arizona, and especially educators of color."

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 9 ways to increase teacher diversity in Arizona classrooms

Thu, 08 Dec 2022 00:00:40 -0600 en-US text/html
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Mon, 28 Nov 2022 00:58:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Killexams : 2022 school letter grades show improvement at Flagstaff charter schools

The Arizona State Board of Education (AZSBE) recently published a report of school letter grades for the first time since 2019. In Flagstaff, most schools saw improvement to their scores, with a few charter schools increasing by multiple letters.

Most charter schools in Flagstaff saw similar scores to those they received in 2019, with two schools seeing significant increases. Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) saw overall improvement to its schools’ grades, though two of its schools fell a letter grade.

AZSBE usually reports school letter grades annually, but the pandemic meant that it did not report new grades for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.

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Factors such as proficiency, growth and language proficiency of English learners determine each school’s final score, with each being weighted differently based on grade level.

For elementary and middle schools (kindergarten through eighth grade), growth accounts for half of the final score followed by proficiency on the Arizona Academic Standards Assessment (AASA, 30%). Acceleration/high school readiness and English language proficiency and growth (using the AZELLA) both make up 10% of a school’s total.

Proficiency on the ACT is the largest factor for high schools (grades nine through 12) at 30%. Growth, English proficiency and two high school-specific categories — graduation rate and college and career readiness (CCRI) — each make up 20% of the final score.

2022 letter grades for Flagstaff charter schools

Scores at Flagstaff’s three hybrid schools (meaning they serve students in both K-8 and 9-12) all fell from 2019 totals, though no schools dropped a letter grade.

Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy (FALA) remained at a B score, falling 1.73 points (from 71.75 to 70.02), while BASIS fell 2.47 points (from 95.92 to 93.45), remaining at an A score. Northland Preparatory Academy (NPA) had the biggest drop, falling 9.19 points while remaining at an A (92.8 in 2019 to 83.61).

The city’s elementary and middle school charters all increased their scores, with two raising their letter grades to receive an A score. Flagstaff Junior Academy’s (FJA) score rose 2.96 points to remain at a B (from 80.00 to 82.96).

Here is how a few Flagstaff charters have been supporting their students in the time between the two scores:

Haven Montessori

Haven Montessori’s score rose slightly from its 2019 total of 98.21, staying at an A grade. According to executive director Cristy Zeller, its 2022 score of 99.97 is the highest in Arizona for a traditional K-8 school.

“The great thing about the Montessori method is that the teachers are already working to meet each child exactly where they are,” she said. “...When we foster this love of learning and help them pursue what they’re most interested in, they gain problem-solving skills and they’re really able to persevere under most circumstances.”

She added: “I’m extremely proud of our teachers and our staff; they truly get all the credit for the successes of the school. ...It’s been hard on everybody, and I feel like everyone here has really come together as a community and that’s one of the things that makes us special.”

While Zeller has seen changes to student learning in accurate years, she said at Haven they are seen as a potential positive.

“We like to look at it as a learning opportunity, so that’s the attitude we’ve taken here and pass onto our parents and staff that this is how we want to talk about getting kids learning the best they can,” she said. “We definitely saw some kids coming in with setbacks in memorizing that they’re going to need a little more extra practice, and spent a lot of time last year re-giving lessons that they hadn’t had in a while.”

As with other schools, she said Haven has been keeping up its educational efforts through the pandemic. The Montessori method already has a focus on social emotional learning, which she said has only become more of an emphasis for the school. In addition to the small lessons and techniques woven throughout the typical school day, Haven now also does weekly lessons led by two staff members -- an “extra layer of direct instruction.”

“Obviously, it’s a very stressful time overall…and having that holistic approach to education has helped them be very successful academically — giving them the space to work out problems and then they’re able to focus more on memorizing or math,” Zeller said.

An example is “big deal, little deal,” which asks students to put their problems into perspective by naming and comparing examples of really big and small problems.

Haven has also been implementing some intervention work over the past few years. The school evaluates students three times a year, giving one-on-one time with a specialist to those that “need a little extra help.” The school’s interventionist, Laura Nie (“the memorizing whisperer,” according to Zeller), also does small group pull out lessons for four to six weeks, using the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) assessment to measure growth.

“Where we’ve seen the most impact is that individualized attention from that specialist in memorizing instruction has really helped move them forward,” Zeller said. “...Lots of focus on assessing, identifying these and then finding the tools to help them get to grade level or, mostly, feeling good about themselves. A lot of them came in not feeling really confident about what they could do and that’s where the social-emotional comes in. We’ve been really working with them on their self-confidence and their being able to work independently.”

Going forward, she said the school plans to continue doing what it has been.

“We want to teach these children to love school, to love learning, to be independent, to care for the earth and other people,” she said. “The academics, they just fall into line and kids love to go to school. We’re very focused on keeping people healthy and we always want our school to be a literal haven for kids.”

Mountain School

Mountain School had the largest increase of the Flagstaff charters, 31.56 points, which raised the school’s score to an A (99.14, from a C score of 67.58 in 2019).

Principal Gina Andress attributed this growth to collaboration between teachers, school staff and families.

“The growth was really important, and I’m super proud of it, and I’m proud of our teachers especially through the last couple years we’ve gone through,” she said. “I think they work so diligently. …We have a lot of support staff as well–teachers, assistants, we have a really strong specialist team. They collaborate with teachers also, and I feel like that helps to build academics and learning at our school too.”

The school’s 2019 score was much lower than usual, she said, as it had often received As in the past. This meant that, even before the pandemic began, school staff had been meeting to pinpoint the issue and think of ways to improve, which they continued over the next few years.

“That was something that happened where it was unexpected, but it really helped us look at some of our curriculum, some of our protocols, some of the formats of our grade levels and things,” Andress said of the 2019 scores. “...We did change some things, but we didn’t change everything because all along, we’d been doing quite well. We were really trying to pinpoint what needed to be developed or perhaps looking at what are we doing that we don’t need to do, that type of thing. I did feel like the growth was going to be there.”

One of the things she said Mountain School has been focused on lately is finding ways for the students to take ownership of their learning. Andress described the school's approach as "student-centered," meaning that it focuses on the ways students are learning and how to help them get to the next stage.

“We try to promote a love of learning and supply the children some ownership of their learning,” she said. “...It’s not just about providing curriculum, it’s not just about giving them assignments, it's about helping them understand why this learning is important and the purpose behind the lessons and involving them in where their growth needs to happen and it really has been a positive thing. We’ve always done that -- it’s part of our mission -- but we’ve been focused on that in the last year.”

While the teachers are still leading the lessons, this can come from things like asking students how they’ll know if they met the goals for an assignment or, for older students, participating in a peer review.

“Our goal is throughout the whole time that they’re at Mountain School that they will by fifth grade really be able to look at what needs to be done for their learning goals and make adjustments," Andress said.

She also mentioned that the school had adopted a new math curriculum shortly before the pandemic and, while it can take a few years to see the results of a new program, the school is now seeing more confidence and critical thinking in its students' math.

“We’re in our fourth year of this and now we’re really seeing where there’s deeper thinking with the students in math who have been with us all along,” she said.

Andress said Mountain School is currently focused on continuing growth in areas such as community, academic excellence and student empowerment in learning.

“The thing we’re trying to do is focus on what we’re doing really well, giving that some time to grow and being really thoughtful about what we add,” she said. “Education can be something where there’s always something new, there’s something that looks like it would be a great addition and it’s true, most things are, but they also take time to really develop, and we’re trying to supply ourselves that time. We are seeing good results from that.”

Pine Forest

Pine Forest School (PFS) increased 22.30 points from its 2019 score, moving from a C to an A (to 89.78 from 67.48 in 2019). Director of operations Cindy Roe said this was in part due to its focus on continuity during the pandemic.

“It was not easy for any school and it wasn’t easy for families and it wasn’t easy for children, particularly,” she said. “I think our special skill was helping them to have a real continuance of their everyday experience -- even though they were at home, the teachers were with them on a daily basis, four to five hours Zooming in and teaching.”

Waldorf education focuses on creativity and art, something Roe said did not pause when the pandemic meant PFS had to move to remote learning.

The school, which does not use screens in its in-person classes, had its teachers set up Zoom in its classrooms during remote learning. This, alongside a focus on group rather than self-directed learning, allowed the students to feel connected to school even when learning from home, Roe said.

“Even when the students went to home-based learning, we still continued to do all of these specialties as well as the academic workshops,” she said. “I think that gave the students some connectivity; they still felt connected to their school because they weren’t just off in some online land.”

Kelly Jecmen, Pine Forest’s director of education, also highlighted parent engagement and “patience and grace” during online learning.

The school sent home materials for handwork and even held a concert over Zoom, for example and the school’s special education teacher did home visits. It also provided four on-campus “safe space learning environments,” which teachers would check in on.

Roe said the school had focused on “supporting [students] being able to connect with each other, because it wasn’t just about last year. It wasn’t just about fiscal year 2022, it was about fiscal year 2019. During the pandemic, we didn’t stop supporting their inner development, their growth and how they had opportunities to talk about how they were feeling, what was happening in their lives.”

She and Jecmen both noted that part of PFS’s increase to its score was due to high participation in the AASA. The school administered the test to 100% of its students, allowing for documentation of the entire school’s academic growth.

For the rest of this school year, Roe said, the plan is to continue the extra support, with an emphasis on social well-roundedness.

Pine Forest has been holding morning and afternoon tutoring sessions for its students in addition to targeted weekly lessons during the school day and Jecmen said the school was able to provide intervention support to all grade levels.

In 2022, she said, the school hired two teachers to lead after-school academic support for students with disabilities (three times a week, using a Targeted Support and Improvement, or TSI, grant), a part-time teacher for in-school intervention for the lowest 25% in benchmark assessments (16 hours a week, using Title 1 funds), two PFS teachers for after-school math support (three days a week) and a part-time teacher to support middle school math.

“All the teachers worked well together during the pandemic to best serve the PFS students for their physical health and mental health,” Jecmen said. “When we returned, we focused on the social emotional health of the students, providing counseling if students were struggling.

“It was a tough couple years, but we had dedicated teachers who taught the students with their hearts and understanding, so students were able to make academic gains in those two years.”

More about school letter grades can be found at


The original version of the article stated that Northland Preparatory Academy received a B letter grade in the 2022 scores and that Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy received a C. The schools in fact received an A and B score, respectively.

Sat, 03 Dec 2022 23:30:00 -0600 Abigail Kessler en text/html
Killexams : Arizona Now Has A Universal School Voucher Program. Who Really Benefits From It?

Arizona was the first state to implement the type of school vouchers known as education savings accounts. In an ESA, the family is given a stack of public tax dollars to spend on educating their child.

These vouchers were originally targeted at students attending public schools with a D or F grade from the state, students with special needs, and children of active military, as well as some other narrow qualifications. This summer, Arizona expanded those eligibility requirements to include every student in the state.

That trajectory for school choice policy is not unusual. It’s typical for choice supporters to get a foot in the door by aiming the policies at students in “failing” schools or with special needs. Now that the application period for the universal vouchers is over, a picture of who will be served by them can emerge. A new analysis by the Grand Canyon Institute, a “centrist think tank” in Arizona, finds that the new system is no longer focused on helping poor students escape “failing” schools.

Says GCI, “These vouchers primarily benefit wealthier households.” GCI found that no zip codes with a median income above $80,000 (well above the state median income) have schools receiving a D or F grade from the state. Those wealthier zip codes account for 45% of universal ESA applicants. Those zip codes that do include one “failing” high school or two “failing” k-8 schools only account for 3.5% of the universal ESA applicants.

80% of universal ESA applicants are not in public schools. That means one of two things must happen. Either the state must come up with additional funding (about $177 million in GCI’s estimate), or school districts will send funding to “follow” those students, even though the reduction in costs for the district will be $0.

Arizona already has “extensive subsidy programs” for private schools. A tax credit scholarship program allows corporations and private individuals to make contributions to scholarship funds in lieu of tax payment; in 2021 that meant that $250 went to private schools instead of the state coffers. Those contributions are funneled through a number of scholarship organizations (the two biggest such organizations in Arizona are the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization and Catholic Education Arizona).

The original ESA program looks to cost around $190 million. GCI estimates that universal ESAs will add another $180 million, so that Arizona taxpayers will, directly or indirectly, subsidize private schools for around $600 million.

What taxpayers get for that money is not entirely clear. A voucher of roughly $7,000 is of limited use in a state where the average private school tuition is over $10,000, and private schools retain the right to accept or reject students as they choose.

While charter schools in Arizona are required to do audits and follow state curriculum requirements, recipients of voucher money don’t have those kinds of requirements. Dave Wells, research director of GCI, notes that private schools are free to discriminate and follow whatever academic program they prefer.

The low level of accountability and oversight for how that $600 million is spent is a cause for concern. Wells argues that “the legislation has little concern for how effectively these schools are educating students.”

The Arizona Education Association noted in April that Arizona is near the bottom of the states when comparing education funding to the state’s economy, as well as trailing in teacher salary and per pupil spending. Governor Doug Ducey’s 2021 budget touted a big investment in education, though much of that investment was in charter schools and vouchers, rather than public education.

Tue, 15 Nov 2022 04:26:00 -0600 Peter Greene en text/html
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Killexams : Judge keeps Arizona execution plan on track for Wednesday

PHOENIX (AP) — Plans to execute an Arizona man on Wednesday remain on track after a judge refused to postpone the lethal injection, rejecting a bid to allow fingerprint and DNA testing on evidence from two 1980s killings that led to the inmate's death sentence.

Lawyers for Murray Hooper said their client is innocent, that no physical evidence ties him to the killings of William “Pat” Redmond and his mother-in-law, Helen Phelps, and that testing could lead to identifying those responsible. They say Hooper was convicted in an era before computerized fingerprint systems and DNA testing were available in criminal cases.

U.S. District Judge Stephen McNamee wrote in Monday's order that the argument by Hooper’s lawyers was flawed in concluding that such testing will automatically establish his innocence.

“Even if forensic testing establishes what Plaintiff (Hooper) hopes it will, that alone will not invalidate the other evidence used to convict him,” McNamee wrote.

McNamee wrote that the absence of Hooper’s fingerprints on evidence wouldn’t undermine witness testimony that he took part in the killings. He especially noted the testimony of Redmond's wife, Marilyn, who authorities said had been shot in the head when Hooper and two other men forced their way into the Redmond home on Dec. 31, 1980. She survived the attack and testified against Hooper.

Hooper’s attorneys, who are appealing the judge's decision, said in a statement that Arizona shouldn’t move forward with the execution plan until the testing is done and his legal team has adequate time to review the evidence.

His lawyers say Marilyn Redmond’s description of the assailants changed several times before she identified their client, who said he was not in Arizona at the time. They also raised questions about the benefits received by witnesses who testified against her client, including favorable treatment in other criminal cases.

“For 40 years, Mr. Hooper has maintained that he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death based on corrupt police practices and unreliable witness testimony,” the defense team said.

State courts had previously rejected Hooper’s request for the testing, with a lower-court judge concluding that the evidence implicating Hooper was overwhelming.

Two other men, William Bracy and Edward McCall, were convicted in the killings but died before their death sentences could be carried out.

Authorities say Robert Cruz, who was alleged to have had ties to organized crime, hired Hooper, Bracy and McCall to kill Pat Redmond, who co-owned a printing business. They said Cruz wanted to take over the business and was unhappy that Redmond had rejected his offers to enter several printing contracts with Las Vegas hotels, according to court records. In 1995, Cruz was acquitted of murder charges in both deaths.

Hooper would be the state's third prisoner put to death this year after Arizona resumed carrying out executions in May, following a nearly eight-year hiatus attributed to both the difficulty of obtaining lethal injection drugs and criticism that a 2014 execution was botched.

There are 111 inmates on Arizona’s death row, and 22 have exhausted their appeals, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Mon, 14 Nov 2022 10:03:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Killexams : Apple’s Plans To Source Chips From Arizona Is Big News

Apple’s plans to source chips from Arizona is a major step forward for American semiconductor manufacturing. Those chips will likely come from the new fab that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is building outside Phoenix, as that company is the sole supplier for Apples processor chips use in iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers.

Apple is a large customer for TSMC’s 5 nm process, and it is said to be Studying for its 3 nm process. TSMC’s Arizona fab will have an initial capacity for 20,000 12” wafer starts a month, and it recently announced plans to build another fab adjacent to the first. This might be related to Apple’s announcement, as 20,000 12” wafer starts a month is miniscule compared to its capacity in Taiwan, where its fabs have an aggregate capacity exceeding a million 12” wafers per month. It’s Fab 18 in Southern Taiwan Science Park is believed to be where it is focusing 3 nm production, and reportedly is on track for production in the fourth quarter of 2022.

TSMC reports that their largest customer (presumably Apple) accounted for 26% of its revenue in 2021, while its second largest was only at 10%. More intriguingly, that share has been on an uptrend from 23% in 2019, and 25% in 2020. The company points out that there are only a limited number of customers who are able to operate in this space – namely designing their own semiconductors and dealing directly with foundries like itself. That suggests that Apple and the Arizona expansion are closely linked. The Arizona fab is slated to come online in 2024 with 5 nm production.

If indeed Apple shifts some part of its sourcing to Arizona, it will pave the way for other fabless companies such as Qualcomm QCOM , AMD, and Nvidia to move some of their production there as well. Like Apple, all of them likely want to diversify their sourcing needs, and TSMC also likely would not want to have a fab dedicated exclusively to Apple. Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly commented that “60% coming out of anywhere is probably not a strategic position.” But getting some of that production back on U.S. shores will be pretty strategic for the U.S.

Wed, 16 Nov 2022 06:29:00 -0600 Willy Shih en text/html
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