The public school system in Arizona is a complete mess. But during the past few years, it really hit a new low.
Attempts to indoctrinate children with Critical Race Theory and radical gender theory have been spreading throughout our public school districts. COVID shutdowns have wreaked havoc on students’ education—especially low-income parents and children. In the meantime, public school spending surged during COVID while teacher pay didn’t keep pace. But that didn’t stop failed teachers’ unions like Red4ED from trying to use the “low teacher pay” narrative in their attempts to push more ridiculous tax increases on taxpayers like you.
Of course, all of this is only more infuriating when you consider that the majority of Arizona students continue to fail the statewide assessment. And ACT scores for Arizona students have fallen below the standards for our state universities. That’s why the Club made it a priority to drain the public school swamp in this past November’s election. And we saw some great success…
According to the latest ACT scoring data, the average Arizona student doesn’t achieve an ACT score recommended as a minimum by Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU), and the University of Arizona (UArizona).
On Tuesday, the ACT organization announced that the national average score for its eponymous college admissions test was the lowest it’s been in over 30 years: 19.8. However, Arizona fared worse: 18.3. The state’s students, on average, also fell below the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks.
If students go by their ACT scores, ASU requires first-year in-state applicants to have scored at least a 22 overall, while out-of-state applicants must score a 24. Both NAU and UArizona require freshmen applicants to score at least a 21 in English, 24 in math, and 20 in science.
All three universities present the ACT score as one of several possible criteria for admission, offering SAT scores, GPAs, and even certain courses taken as alternatives. During the pandemic, the three state universities made the SAT/ACT optional.
The organization noted in its state-by-state breakdown of data that the most accurate way to compare composite scores would be to compare the averages of states sharing similar percentages of graduates tested.
Even within that context, Arizona fared poorly according to the 64 percent of student scores available for review. The state with the next-highest percentage of graduates tested, Missouri (66 percent), boasted a composite score of 20.12. The state with the next-lowest percentage of graduates tested, South Dakota (58 percent), boasted a composite score of 21.42.
In a press release, ACT CEO Janet Godwin explained that this year of poor performance was the fifth consecutive year of decline: a “worrisome trend.” Godwin noted “longtime systemic failures” in the educational system, predating the pandemic, brought the nation’s students to this point.
“A return to the pre-pandemic status quo would be insufficient and a disservice to students and educators,” stated Godwin. “These systemic failures require sustained collective action and support for the academic recovery of high school students as an urgent national priority and imperative.”
At its June 28 meeting, the Arizona State Board of Education did not approve the SAT for the Menu of Assessments for the 2021-2022 school year. The decision requires all schools to only administer the ACT Aspire and ACT in high school as the statewide assessment.
In June 2020, the Board awarded ACT, in partnership with NCS Pearson, the contract for the statewide assessment beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. As part of the 5-Year Assessment Plan, the Board intended for the nationally recognized college exam that failed to win the bid for the statewide assessment, in this case SAT, to be on the Menu of Assessments.
This would have allowed schools to administer either the ACT or the SAT to high school students.
However, in January 2021 the College Board decided to remove the essay portion from the SAT. In order to be federally compliant, the state needs to assess writing. The Board determined that it was better to not approve the SAT for the Menu rather than risk federal funds again.
The State Board indicated it would consider approving the SAT for the Menu should the College Board offer an essay portion in the future.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Education placed Arizona on “high-risk status” due to its assessment system and threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds.