School quality is on the rise in Arizona

Arizona released updated school grades this month, and high-quality schools are on the rise.

A-F school letter grades are based on student academic growth from year to year, scores on the AzMERIT assessment, high school graduation rates and indicators that a student is ready for success at the next level, according to the Arizona State Board of Education.

This year, the number of ‘A’ and ‘B’ schools increased by close to 50 schools, with 974 schools earning top marks.

“We set the A level to recognize distinguished academic performance that is significantly higher than the state average,” said Board of Education President Luke Narducci. “We wanted the bar to be high enough that principals, teachers and students would have something to strive for. I’m delighted to see that academic achievement is increasing.”

For Arizona’s employers, school letter grades provide a guidepost of quality within a community.

Intel Corporation started in Arizona in 1979, and quickly established a presence in Chandler, with 10,000 employees across two campuses today.

“Quality schools and quality education are critical to the shared success of our community,” said Renee Levin, Community Affairs Manager at Intel Corporation.

Levin said Intel continues to invest in the schools within its community, sponsoring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs in which “students are inspired to solve real challenges and think of themselves as innovators.”

That community investment helps.

Chandler stands out as a city with quality education, as 91 percent of public district and charter schools in the city earned an ‘A’ or ‘B’ letter grade this year, according to the Center for Student Achievement, a partner of the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

“There are many factors we consider when opening a new factory or location, including the surrounding community – and education is absolutely a consideration. We are proud of the nearly four decades we have grown our business in Chandler, and a strong education system will be vital to our future success here,” said Levin.

Businesses looking to expand in Arizona also ask about quality schools and want to ensure there is a talent pipeline for high quality jobs, said Rachel Yanoff, Executive Director of Achieve60AZ, a grassroots movement committed to identifying and closing skills gaps to better prepare our workforce.

“Businesses want to see that there is a robust educational system so that students and future employees are able to access lots of pathways into great jobs,” she said.

Megan Gilbertson

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