Well, at least according to Morgan-Quitno
in their annual Smartest State Awards. Arizona? DEAD LAST. And it looks like we no one else was even close (a full three-and-a-half points behind the next lowest state, Mississippi). Following is the full ranking of all states (I'm only listing the scores for top and bottom five to show range)
- Vermont (+ 17.58)
- Connecticut (+ 15.88)
- Massachusetts (+ 14.48)
- New Jersey (+ 12.55)
- Maine (+ 9.33)
- New York
- New Hampsire
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virignia
- California (- 12.57)
- Nevada (- 13.11)
- New Mexico (- 13.37)
- Missisippi (- 14.31)
- Arizona (- 17.81)
I'm totally not surprised though...we're WAY underfunded (49th in the nation) and have been for MANY years now. And, well, the schools here just suck. Class sizes are ridiculously large, many of our inner city and poorer area schools don't even have enough chairs and desks for their students, let alone up-to-date books. It's sickening.
Thankfully we have a governor who is (or seems at least) committed to fixing our craptastic education system.
Getting back to the study...there were 21 factors utilized in this study. I'm not about to fork over the big bucks to read about our detailed showings in all 21 of these areas - especially since I can estimate based upon what I do know about our school systems.
*********Positive (GOOD to be at the top)
Public Elementary and Secondary School Revenue per $1,000 Personal Income
- definitely at the bottom of the list...our funding is horrendous, so I'd imagine our revenue is horrendous
Percent of Public Elementary and Secondary School Current Expenditures used for Instruction
- I'm sure this is extremely low. Arizona schools are run by fairly small districts and, I'd assume, have LOTS of administrative expenditures as a result of all of those districts.
Percent of Population Graduated from High School
- probably not in the bottom five, but damn close. One in five Arizona children lives in poverty and LOTS of students just don't finish school because they have to get a job to help support their families.
Public High School Graduation Rate
Percent of Public School Fourth Graders Proficient or Better in Reading
- near the bottom of the barrell - we are consistently terrible in standardized test scores, and it gets worse the higher the grade level
Percent of Public School Eighth Graders Proficient or Better in Reading
- at or near the bottom (see above)
Percent of Public School Fourth Graders Proficient or Better in Writing
- I am pretty sure we're slightly more adept at writing than reading, but I am not certain
Percent of Public School Eighth Graders Proficient or Better in Writing
Percent of Public School Fourth Graders Proficient or Better in Mathematics
- math is probably our strong point, which is like saying that George Bush's strong point is his leadership ability (in other words, there IS no 'strong point')
Percent of Public School Eighth Graders Proficient or Better in Mathematics
Average Teacher Salary as a Percent of Average Annual Pay of All Workers
- this is probably toward the bottom without being AT the bottom. Some districts get pretty decent pay...though now that COL is on the rise due to the massive increase in the cost of housing, I doubt if salaries are keeping up
Average Daily Attendance as a Percent of Fall Enrollment in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in 2004
- I'd venture a guess that our daily attendance is likely on the low end of the spectrum, though maybe not in the bottom 5
Percent of School-Age Population in Public Schools
- Arizona's immigrant population may factor into these statistics (depending on the way data is collected) and we also have a decent number of private and charter schools (when your public schools are as bad as they are, is there any wonder)
Negative (BAD to be ranked at the top)
High School Drop Out Rate
- no doubt ours is pretty high, but I'm relatively certain it's not in the top 5
Special Education Pupil-Teacher Ratio
- this is merely a guess, but I'd say we might actually be somewhat decent in this area
Percent of Public Elementary and Secondary School Staff Who are School District Administrators
- this has got to be at or near the top based purely on the sheer number of districts we have, though I did find this interesting site from the Arizona School Boards Association
Average Class Size in Public Elementary Schools
- purely guessing here based upon my own experiences with the current school systems, but I'd say this has got to be at or near the top. With growth at such a high rate, schools can't keep up with the drastic increase in population. In 2000, the School Facilities Board approved the building of 26 new schools per year (through 2004), with most of these schools being built in the Metro Phoenix area. That is a lot of schools, but the state is simply growing faster than schools can be built
Average Class Size in Public Secondary Schools
- even 10 years ago when I graduated from high school class sizes were ridiculous. My junior year, I had a Spanish class with FIFTY students. Yep, 50 - eventually the school 'wisely' split us up...into a class of 40 and a class of 10 (and you wonder why the state ranks so low). I can only imagine how widespread the problem must be now.
Median Pupil-Teacher Ratio in Public Primary Schools
Median Pupil-Teacher Ratio in Public Middle Schools
Median Pupil-Teacher Ratio and Public High Schools
So...maybe I should seriously consider homeschooling again. I don't want my daughter's education to suffer just because I happen to like everything else about Arizona. There are a few really fantastic districts in Arizona (two of them happen to be the ones I attended for elementary school)...maybe it's time we start looking for houses in Peoria. The district I currently live in is probably one of Arizona's worst districts (yeah, in the entire state...it's that bad). It IS getting better though - which is a little bit disappointing giving the reasons. This district is in a city that is predominantly Mexican - with the minor population being mostly first or second generation Americans. Now that the surrounding area is being developed and turned into white suburbia, the district is magically getting more funding. But, the suffering schools within the district are still suffering, while the newer schools are doing rather well. That's the disturbing reality of American education, folks. If you're poor, you just don't have the same access to quality education.
And don't get me started on the ridiculousness that is NCLB and the concept of vouchers...THEY DON'T HELP THE STUDENTS WHO ARE IN THE MOST NEED OF HELP.