PHOENIX - Today the Goldwater Institute Center for Educational Opportunity released No Child Left Behind and Arizona: Making State and Federal K-12 Accountability Systems Work and Arizona Public and Private Schools: A Statistical Analysis. The reports explain Arizona's various accountability systems and show differences between public and private schools.
No Child Left Behind and Arizona shows the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is failing to bring transparency to school achievement or accountability to schools that fail to educate children.
Before NCLB was implemented, Arizona had its own accountability program called AZ Learns. Now, schools must comply with two sets of accountability requirements which sometimes conflict. A school can be underperforming according to NCLB standards, but performing according to AZ Learns. For example, in 2005, 13 percent of Arizona schools were labeled underperforming by NCLB standards, and only seven percent by AZ Learns.
"These conflicting rankings confuse parents and defeat the purpose of transparency. Accountability must come from the bottom-up, not the top-down. When parents can freely choose any school, real accountability will begin," says Matthew Ladner, PhD, vice president for research with the Goldwater Institute.
Arizona Public and Private Schools reports results from a new Goldwater Institute survey of private schools in Arizona. Andrew Coulson, author of Market Education, and Director of the Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom, highlights interesting differences between public and private schools.
One significant finding is the teaching-to- administrative staff ratio. Teachers make up 72 percent of private school staff and 49 percent of public school staff. Arizona has an unusually large share of non-teaching public school employees, placing 46th nationally in teachers as a share of onsite public school staff.
The report also finds few private schools base admission decisions on academic achievement. About half of Arizona private schools do not consider any measure of academic achievement in the admissions process. Of those that do, on average, academic selectivity does not place among the top five admissions criteria.
Coulson also finds private schools have higher graduation rates and higher college acceptance rates. The average private school tuition in Arizona is just under $4,500. That is about half the amount of funding that Arizona public schools receive per pupil.