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Bill makes Arizona schools’ letter grades more flexible this year

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Monday exempting Arizona schools from being letter-graded this year, citing learning disruption because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ducey also signed an executive order that called on the Arizona State Board of Education to study data gathered from statewide student assessment testing, among other materials, to “identify the extent of learning loss that has occurred” during the COVID crisis.

House Bill 2402 “ensures students continue to be evaluated, so we can get them the help they need, while also recognizing this year is unique and provides some flexibility around the state’s A-F letter grade system,” Ducey said in a letter to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

The Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office clarified Tuesday that individual students will still receive letter grades but schools will not be graded based on standardized testing.

“It is no secret that the past year has been tumultuous for our students and schools,” Superintendent Kathy Hoffman said in a press release.

“By signing HB 2402, Governor Ducey provided needed stability to schools by pausing A-F school letter grades related to Federal and State Accountability for School Year 2021. In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 2021-03, the Arizona Department of Education stands ready to work with the Arizona State Board of Education to analyze data around the learning that occurred during the pandemic and strategies to address the opportunity gap to help schools meet all students’ academic needs.”

Meanwhile, the executive order comes less than two months before students are scheduled to take the AZMerit2 test beginning in April. They missed testing last year as schools across the state were closed in March as infections numbers began to rise.

“This data will then be used to ensure targeted and evidence-based strategies for acceleration,” Ducey said in the letter.

“This will ensure we continue to have accountability in our education system, so parents can make the best educational choice for their kids.”

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