The achievement gap is widening between Hispanic and white students in Arizona, according to a national study released Wednesday.
Education Week magazine’s annual Quality Counts study showed Arizona as only one of three states with achievement gaps widening between different racial or ethnic groups in fourth-grade reading scores. Colorado’s gaps were between Hispanic and white students, while Ohio’s were between black and white students.
The study analyzed National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores from across the nation between 1992 and 2005. While math performance among students has increased in the past 10 years nationally, the national average in reading "barely budged."
The report grades Arizona with a "D" when it comes to efforts by the state to improve teacher quality. It’s something Arizona Education Association president John Wright says is evidence that teachers need more support.
"We do not have a systemic statewide program for induction of new teachers or for ongoing professional development for teachers," Wright said. "Our plan for continued growth in teaching is lacking."
Wright says the answer is to create a board of professionals made up of career teachers who can set up standards and programs. He also said consistency in teacher evaluation would help strengthen teacher quality.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne could not be reached for comment.
Among other findings, Arizona improved in its fourth-grade math scores with a host of other states and met national averages in the categories of fourth-grade reading, and eighth-grade math and reading. The state fell below national standards in eighthgrade reading between 1998 and 2005.
Standards and accountability: B
Efforts to improve teacher quality: D
School climate: C+
Resource equity: D+ Source: Quality Counts 2006 study, Education Week magazine