Schools identified for comprehensive and targeted support can apply for grants using a needs assessment and action plans.
Prioritization is based on schools that show evidenced-based decision-making, selection of interventions, root cause analysis, greatest need, and strongest commitment to using funds for student achievement and outcomes. Arizona also provides a fiscal review process and technical assistance as needed.
Arizona’s school improvement plans are thin.
The state mandates that low-performing schools perform a comprehensive needs assessment that will look at leadership capacity, instructional practices, curriculum and assessments, and organizational climate and culture. Arizona says this will involve a number of stakeholders, including school staff, families, and community members, but the state does not provide any additional information on how it would target assistance.
The needs assessment description is largely high level and provides little insight into how it would actually work, on what timeline, and if there were any clear guideposts or benchmarks. The state also provides a long list of tools for support and improvement, but how they all tie together is unclear.
Arizona also provides no description of how the state will use its 7 percent set-aside dedicated to school-improvement activities.
The state provides little detail around what evidence-based strategies low-performing districts and schools will need to pursue.
If the state is going to devolve a lot of improvement and support to its districts, it should be clearer about that. However, it does appropriately address its involvement in school and district improvement, including stepping in when there is systemic failure to improve.