With a longer academic year, Arizona’s schools can make the grade.
According to the Arizona Department of Education 235 traditional, charter and alternative schools —12 percent of all schools in the public system — received letter grades of “D” or “F” for the 2013 school year. Most of these schools are located in inner-city and rural locations, creating an unacceptable achievement gap between rich and poor students.
To help ensure that all of Arizona’s school-aged youth are prepared to meet rigorous college and career expectations, United Way supports efforts to extend the state’s academic calendar to 200 days. This measure has already proven effective in districts like the Balsz Elementary School District in Phoenix, where 90 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
As schools face increasing pressure to improve student test scores — and with College and Career Ready Assessments set to begin in 2015 — it’s more important than ever to give all K-12 students in Arizona additional time and opportunities for learning. Without a longer academic year, many students will be ill prepared to compete in a global economy and perpetually shackled to a life of poverty.