Arizona’s new A-F accountability system will prove crucial to charter success

By Jamar Younger

Arizona’s A-F letter grade system has served as the outward-facing indicator of a school’s quality since it was introduced in 2010.

For charter schools, A-F letter grades influence high stakes decisions such as whether a school or network can renew its charter, increase its enrollment and open another campus.

Ultimately, if a charter school receives an ‘F,’ it may potentially lead to the school’s closure.

That’s why the next six weeks will provide a series of defining moments as the state looks to complete its revamp of the new, proposed A-F Framework crafted by the state’s A-F Ad Hoc Committee.

The State Board of Education’s staff is currently traveling around the state to host public hearings and solicit opinions on the draft framework. The Board also created a survey to share feedback on the draft.

The Board is expected to vote on a new accountability system on April 24 at 9 a.m. after it receives feedback and works with the Ad Hoc Committee to make final changes to the conceptual framework.

The Arizona Charter Schools Association joined with a coalition of other state education groups last month to submit a letter voicing a lack of support for the framework.

We will only support a letter grade system that accurately and fairly reflects effective instruction and student achievement, based on multiple measures, for all public schools. The Association advocates for the appropriate use of available data; minimizing administrative burdens to schools; and using student growth measures to accurately describe the impact of teachers and schools on student learning.

Arizona’s charter students have built considerable momentum within the last couple of years, outperforming their peers on a series of local and national exams, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress and AzMERIT.

The new A-F Accountability System will prove vital to continuing that momentum.

You can view a list of dates and times for the A-F public hearings here. And you can access the State Board of Education’s survey here.