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Majority of Arizona Students Continue to Fail Statewide Testing, Per Latest Report

September 14, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

The latest Arizona Department of Education (ADE) report reveals that a majority of Arizona students continue to fail the statewide assessment.

This year, only 41 percent of students passed the English Language Arts (ELA) portion, while 33 percent passed the mathematics section.

The ADE revealed these declining results last Wednesday in a press release. However, ADE presented the results as overall gains, noting that students experienced increases of three percent in English Language Arts (ELA) and two percent in mathematics. 

Yet, last year’s results may not be weighed against these most recent results — the 2021 assessment report disclosed that “a significant number of students” weren’t tested, and therefore those results shouldn’t carry as much weight. Test results from Hoffman’s first year in office, 2019, were only slightly better than those this year: 42 percent of students passed both ELA and math.

It could be argued that those results were part of an upswing in testing that occurred under Hoffman’s predecessor, Diane Douglas. In 2016, 38 percent of students passed ELA and math. In 2017, 39 percent of students passed ELA and 40 percent passed math. In 2018, 41 percent of students passed both ELA and math. 

Additionally, only a few percentage points were gained overall despite the ADE dedicating millions of COVID-19 relief funds to improve test scores.

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman said that she’s petitioning the state to increase funding by lifting the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL) to further improve test scores.

“If we want to continue increasing scores, defunding our public schools will have the opposite impact,” said Hoffman. “The infusion of federal dollars shows that increased funding can increase learning outcomes, not just on test scores but in our student’s abilities to thrive and contribute to our state.”

In an interview with “The Conservative Circus,” Hoffman’s opponent, former superintendent and attorney general Tom Horne, declared that the statewide assessment results constituted an emergency. He noted that student proficiency had fallen far from his 2003 to 2011 tenure, when Arizona students were over 60 percent proficient in math and over 70 percent proficient in English.

“It’s hard to imagine it could be worse,” said Horne. 

Horne claimed that Hoffman was focused on implementing systems that distracted from proper education, citing social-emotional learning (SEL) as one problematic distraction. 

“With social-emotional learning, the teachers are discouraged from imposing discipline because it might hurt some kids’ feelings,” said Horne. 

During the interview, Horne also opined that the ADE links to sexualized LGBTQ+ chat rooms for minors weren’t legal. As AZ Free News reported this week, Hoffman was sued last month for linking to these chat rooms on the ADE website. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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