A for Arizona has been bird dogging the A-F process and working with the Arizona Chamber Foundation on policy briefs to support the process since 2014. One recent wrinkle in the process was the preference by the data professionals to use an 'n' count of 20. This meant subgroups of students wouldn't be counted unless a school had 20 of them.
Of particular concern to A for Arizona and their school leaders was for ELL students. In many small schools these students would go uncounted in the portion of the A-F system that included ELL progress. Though various groups also wanted this fixed, it was the profile of A for Arizona and their advocacy arm that served as the gel for a small but relentless coalition that used research, advocacy, and the threat of legislation to get movement on this issue and to ensure as many ELL students as possible were counted and seen. After a big change in SBOE membership, new members were more in tune with arguments for transparency, and pushback came more from the psychometrician viewpoint.
Ultimately, the 'n' count was amended to 10. This not only helped keep ELL students visible, but supported robust accountability for small schools and small cohorts alike.
Policy / Coalition Partners
Excellence in Education; Helios Foundation; Unidos U.S. (formerly La Raza); State Board staff and members; Governor Ducey's Office.
Key Lessons Learned
This was a classic issue of the "data appropriate" thing to do v the right thing to do in public policy to ensure all kids were seen. So while there were many issues taking policymakers and the public's time, A for Arizona chose to prioritize this above nearly all else or it would not have been fixed. Even large influential organizations have to pick and choose.
A for Arizona decided it was important to get this win for kids, even though it wasn't an issue that was receiving a lot of attention during the tumultuous A-F rewrite. They knew they might not get other things done if they fought for this but with other organizations willing to fight alongside, it was an easy call. Having some new partners that don't normally engage with the Board helped get their attention!
ContactBecky Hill, Senior Policy Director
A for Arizona