Arizona’s new district grading system

One of the most unique and important aspects of Arizona’s new A-F Letter Grade System is that entire school districts also receive a letter grade each year. For years individual teachers and schools have been held almost solely responsible for their performance. The district administrations and school boards complain about the lazy teachers, apathetic parents, and stingy taxpayers.

Through this new grading system, the Arizona Department of Education has given the parents, teachers, and the taxpayers the tool to focus “beyond just schools at the district level allows parents and community members to hold district school boards accountable for all of their schools’ results and for overall student performance. In turn, school boards will be better informed to hold their superintendents accountable.”

Superintendent Huppenthal calls this new accountability system “a game changer. Pushing accountability up to the district level will be a powerful driver of improving education in Arizona for years to come.”

The simple truth is that the voters can’t change much at the school level. The district level is where the public has real power to make changes by being involved and electing school board members who know what is important and what isn’t; who know that the classroom and the kids have to come first and the perks of administrators have to be way down the totem pole; and who know that districts need to fund their classrooms and put the best teachers in those classrooms. Not much else matters.

If we ever needed proof that glitzy silver bullet programs don’t work this is it. TUSD and SUSD are the poster children for the glitz, and they have proven themselves to be districts with central administrations that put themselves and their buddies first. The question then becomes, will the parents, teachers, and taxpayers make good use of this tool and exercise their power? Can we afford not to?

Check back in the future for articles on Sunnyside and TUSD leadership and expenditures.