Measuring Up



Arizona

TOTAL SCORE:
59 out of 116

Rank: 14 out of 26

See a summary of the state’s charter law.

See additional observations about charters in the state and recommendations to support the growth of high-quality charter schools.

What is the state of charter schools in Arizona?

GROWTH INDICATORS

 

 

Score


1. Public school share
 (2013–14)

12

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter schools

605

30%

 

 


2. Public school student share
 (2013–14)

12

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

Number

Percentage

 

Public charter school students

190,672

17%

 

 

3. Students by race and ethnicity (2012–13)

2

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

White

48%

41%

7%

Black

6%

5%

1%

Hispanic

36%

44%

-8%

Asian

4%

3%

1%

Other

6%

7%

-1%

Total minority

52%

59%

-7%

 

4. Students in special populations (2012–13)

0

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

Free and reduced-price lunch status

34%

45%

-11%

Special education status

N/A

N/A

N/A

English learner status

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total special student populations

34%

45%

-11%

 

5. Schools by geographic distribution (2011–12)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

Charters

Traditional

Difference

City

57%

43%

14%

Suburb

14%

12%

2%

Town

10%

15%

-5%

Rural

19%

30%

-11%

Total nonsuburban

86%

88%

-2%

 

6. Communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools (2012–13)

4

weight = 1 | Possible total = 4

 

 

 

Number of communities with more than 10 percent of students in public charter schools

18

   
 

7. New public charter schools opened over the past five years  (2009–14)

9

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2009–10

48

Average Annual Open Rate

8.5%

2010–11

21

2011–12

47

2012–13

25

2013–14

87

Total number

228

 

 

 

 

8. Public charter schools closed over the past five years (2008–13)

12

weight = 3 | Possible total = 12

 

 

 

2008–09

14

Average Annual Closure Rate

3.8%

2009–10

20

2010–11

21

2011–12

26

2012–13

16

Total number

97

 

 

 

 
 

INNOVATION INDICATORS

 

 

Score

9. Public charter schools reporting use of various innovative practices (2011–12)

4

weight = 2 | Possible total = 8

 

 

 

Extended day (30 minutes or more each day compared to traditional public schools)

40

Average

22%

Extended year (10 or more days compared to traditional public schools)

15

Year-round calendar

10

Independent study

31

School-to-work

13

Higher education courses

25

 
 

QUALITY INDICATORS

 

 

Score

10. Additional days of learning in reading (2007–11)

0

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in reading

-22

 

 

 

 

11. Additional days of learning in math (2007–11)

0

weight = 4 | Possible total = 16

 

 

 

Number of additional days of learning in math

-29

 

 

 

Items Reported But Not Scored

Startups versus conversions (2012–13)

 

Startups

Conversions

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools

98%

2%

 

 

 

Public charter schools that are independent, associated with a CMO, or associated with an EMO (2010–11)

 

Number

Percentage

 

 

Independent

284

56%

 

 

Charter management organization

125

24%

 

 

Education management organization

100

20%

 

 

 

Charter authorizers (2013–14)

 

Number of authorizers

Number of charter schools

Average number of charters per authorizer

Percentage of the state’s public charters authorized by this type of authorizer

Local education agency

24

71

3

12%

State education agency

1

5

5

1%

Independent charter board

1

520

520

86%

Noneducational government entity

Higher education institution

1

5

5

1%

Nonprofit

 

Virtual public charter schools and students (2012–13)

Number of virtual public charter school students

11,000

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter school student population enrolled
in virtual charter schools

8%

 

 

Number of virtual public charter schools

22

 

 

Percentage of a state’s public charter schools that are virtual charter schools

4%

 

 

 

Health of the Movement Summary

Arizona’s public charter school movement ranked #14 out of 26, scoring 59 points out of 116.

Arizona scored relatively well on the following indicators:

  • Thirty percent of the state’s public schools were charters in 2013–14.
  • Seventeen percent of the state’s public school students were charter students in 2013–14.
  • Eighteen communities had more than 10 percent of public school students in public charters in 2012–13.
  • Two hundred twenty-eight public charters opened between 2009–10 and 2013–14 in Arizona, an 8.5 percent average annual open rate.
  • Ninety-seven public charter schools closed between 2008–09 and 2012–13, a 3.8 percent average annual closure rate.

Arizona scored relatively low on the following indicators:

  • Public charter schools served a lower percentage of racial and ethnic minority students (7 percentage points less) when compared with traditional public schools in 2012–13.
  • In 2012–13, public charter schools in Arizona served a lower percentage of free and reduced-price lunch students (11 percentage points less) when compared with traditional public schools.1
  • On average, public charter school students exhibited lower academic growth when compared with traditional public school students between 2007–08 and 2010–11 (22 fewer days in reading and 29 fewer days in math).

In addition to the above points, we also offer the following observations about the movement in Arizona:

  • Eighty-six percent of the state’s public charters were located in nonsuburban areas in 2011–12 as compared to 88 percent of traditional public schools.
  • An average of 22 percent of the state’s public charter schools reported using one of the six innovative practices that we tracked in 2011–12.
  • Ninety-eight percent of the state’s public charter schools were startups, and 2 percent were conversions during 2012–13.
  • In 2010–11, 56 percent of the public charter schools in Arizona were independently managed, 24 percent were associated with a nonprofit charter management organization, and 20 percent were associated with a for-profit educational management organization.
  • Arizona law allows charter applicants to apply to a local school board, the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools (ASBCS), the state board of education, a university, a community college district, or a group of community college districts. However, the state board of education has a self-imposed moratorium on charter authorizing, so ASBCS currently oversees all schools approved by both state boards, which means that ASBCS oversaw 87 percent of the state’s public charters in 2013–14. Also, 24 local school districts oversaw 12 percent of the state’s public charters, and one university oversaw 1 percent of the state’s public charters that year.
  • There were 22 virtual public charter schools in Arizona in 2012–13, serving 11,000 students (8 percent of the state’s public charter school population).

According to research by the Arizona Charter Schools Association, the average adjusted census poverty rate for public charters is 28.5 percent, and the rate for districts is 27.6 percent. When looking at the census “high-poverty rate,” the rate for public charters is 24.2 percent compared to district rate of 6.8 percent. The disconnect between these numbers and the free or reduced-price lunch data cited in this report illustrate the challenges in determining the level of poverty in public schools, particularly in public charters.

Recommendations

Arizona has significant populations of public charter schools and public charter school students. While we note performance challenges in charters in this report, it is important to recognize that these data are from 2010–11. In response to these challenges, the state has implemented several efforts to strengthen accountability and improve performance. There are indications that these efforts are having a positive impact. In 2013, for example, the ASBCS forced three of its five F-rated public charter schools to close, and the other two closed on their own. In 2014, the ASBCS denied charter renewals for eight D-rated public charter schools and put six C-rated schools on probation. Also, nearly 73 percent of public charter schools are meeting their contract to improve student achievement, by either improving their letter grade or maintaining an A (A-Alt) or B (B-Alt) from 2013 to 2014, according to public school accountability data released by the Arizona Department of Education.

The Arizona Charter Schools Association (ACSA) has worked on several fronts to achieve these gains. First, ACSA worked with the state board of education to develop an A–F letter grading system for all public schools, including charters. Second, ACSA worked with the ASBCS to develop a performance framework that uses multiple measures to hold charters authorized by the board accountable (which encompasses 87 percent of the state’s public charters).

Third, ACSA created the Center for Student Achievement, which is designed to help schools create, implement, and sustain a systemic plan for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development through implementation coaching and support, job-embedded professional development, and focusing efforts to build professional learning communities capable of data-driven instruction. Fourth, ACSA worked to get legislation enacted in 2012 to strengthen accountability for charters.

Lastly, ACSA has answered the call to increase the number of charters serving low-income students by launching New Schools For Phoenix. The goal of this organization, which was launched in 2013, is to open, replicate, or reform 25 A-rated schools enrolling 12,500 low-income students in Phoenix by 2020 and to recruit and equip highly motivated educators to fuel student success in urban education.

To build on the above efforts in support of the growth of high-quality public charter schools, we recommend that the state increase its investment in the authorizing capacity of the ASBCS and provide more funding and facilities support to public charter students.