Supt. Horne says focus on discipline is common factor among successful Arizona schools

May 16, 2023, 12:00 PM

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne meets with principals from high-performing s...

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne meets with principals from high-performing schools. (Twitter Photo/@azedschools)

(Twitter Photo/@azedschools)

PHOENIX — Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne says a focus on discipline is a common factor among schools that create and maintain high levels of academic achievement.

Horne recently met with nine principals at high-performing schools from across the state to gather information about how the Arizona Department of Education can help lift up other schools.

“We have our own ideas, but I thought, well, let’s invite those principals who’ve already had success, that have taken schools that were F or D schools and brought them up to B or A schools, and get their ideas, also, to mix with our ideas as to how we go about helping the schools improve,” Horne told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday.

He said there were several common themes, with discipline at the top of the list.

“The first thing you have to do is you have to get a handle on the discipline, because kids are not going to learn if the classrooms are disorderly,” Horne said.

“To a person, they were saying that was part of the problem when they took over, so they focused on that first.”

Horne said “tough discipline, including suspensions and expulsions,” was sometimes necessary.

“And then after a couple of years, they didn’t have to do that anymore because the kids learned that discipline would be enforced, and they didn’t have to continue doing it and then they could focus more on the academics and get the academics up,” he said.

“That was, that was, I think the number one commonality.”

Horne said other common factors include using data to determine what teachers need and having teachers teach to the standards.

“Since we only test what’s in the standards, if they teach to the standards, the kids do better in the test,” he said.

It’s also important to support teachers in matters of discipline, which leads to better retention rates, Horne said.

“They feel supported by the administration; they feel that they’re achieving something, the kids are learning more, they’re doing well,” Horne said of teachers.

“They have a feeling of satisfaction; they don’t leave.”

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Supt. Horne says focus on discipline is common factor among successful Arizona schools