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Arizona State Board of Education seeks public’s input on letter-grade system

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona State Board of Education is seeking the public’s input on the proposed school letter-grade accountability system.

The board plans to have 17 public forums across the state through the end of March.

The first one will take place Tuesday evening in Wilcox. People are invited to attend and weigh in on the proposed system that’ll give schools a letter grade, from A through F, based on a number of measures.

Under the proposed system, letter grades for elementary schools would depend heavily on how students perform on the AzMERIT test, which less than half of Arizona students passed last year. For high schools, it would be similar except that additional measures would be taken into account, including what schools are doing to ensure students are college- and career-ready.

Mark Joraanstad, executive director of the Arizona School Administrators, said he’s encouraging people to attend the public forums so that they can “give their input and possibly affect how our schools are graded.”

“They’re going to take into account what they’re hearing all over the state,” he said. “And if they’re hearing a lot of people saying we don’t want a heavy weight on test scores, then maybe they’ll make some adjustments to the formula.”

Joraanstad said he is concerned that the proposed letter-grade system relies heavily on test scores and doesn’t take into account the diverse challenges Arizona schools face. He also said he wants the letter-grade system to place a bigger focus on the progress schools make to “close the achievement gap.”

The Arizona State Board of Education has an advisory committee in place that’ll review the public input collected during the public forums and then give recommendations on how the state’s school letter-grade system should be structured. A full list of the forums can be found online.

All forums run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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