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Great Public Schools Criteria for Arizona

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Arizona.

Readiness to Learn


Arizona has provided funded pre-kindergarten since 1991. Since 1998, pre-kindergarten funds have been one component of the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG), which also finances full-day kindergarten and provides supplements for grades K to 3. Only public schools my receive district funding from the state, although preschool programs may be operated in Head Start and private child care centers through subcontracts with some public schools. Some school districts choose to supplement state funds with local funding sources. Some school districts choose to supplement state funds with local funding sources, including district general funds. All providers must be accredited by a state-approved accrediting organization, such as the NAEYC. (NIEER).

All schools and charter schools (hereafter referred to as "school" or "schools") eligible for the Full-Day Kindergarten Program, which is administered by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The Full-Day Kindergarten Program provides funding in school year 2005 – 2006 for full-day kindergarten programs for schools with a student count in which at least 80% of the pupils qualify for free or reduced-price lunches as established in the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts.

Schools that participate in the Full-Day Kindergarten Program shall offer full-day kindergarten instruction to all students who meet the enrollment requirements for kindergarten programs per A.R.S. §15-821.C. However, beginning in school year 2005 - 2006, Full-Day Kindergarten Program funds may not be used for any student who is not five years of age before September 1, 2005. Parents of students who meet the kindergarten enrollment requirements for voluntary kindergarten programs in a participating school may choose either half-day or full-day kindergarten instruction.

Full-day Kindergarten:

The Child Nutrition Programs provide cash assistance and donated foods to serve nutritionally adequate meals to children in schools, preschools, day care centers and homes. Eighty percent of the children served are low income based on free and reduced-income eligibility status

Quality Conditions


The Statewide Instructional Technology Project (SIT) is a technology integration project funded through Title IID. There are 13 Technology Integration Specialists (certified teachers) that provide ongoing professional development to classroom teachers at the county level. (ADE)

Qualified Staff


The Center for Teaching Quality conducted a pilot survey that revealed strong correlations between working conditions and student achievement.

After surveying over 5,000 educators, five primary findings were highlighted:

  1. Teacher Working Conditions are Correlated with Student Achievement
  2. Teacher Working Conditions Influence Teacher Employment Plans
  3. Teachers and Administrators View Working Conditions Differently
  4. Schools Vary in the Presence of Teacher Working Conditions
  5. Arizona Teachers are More Negative about Working Conditions than Teachers in Other States

This report offers policymakers recommendations.
Arizona Teacher Working Conditions  (44pp)
Center for Teacher Quality Web site

Parental Involvement


Arizona uses Title II A money to reduce class size.  

Manzo Elementary School is located on the west side of Tucson. It is in a culturally rich Hispanic neighborhood. In accordance with our mission statement, Manzo School is a connected, capable, contributing community of learners - a place for growth. We are a school encouraging our students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for the pursuit of their desired vocation and to be contributing citizens in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

Small class size, teacher assistants, schoolwide focus on student achievement, staff development, teacher collaboration, exposure to fine arts, and administrative support are all vital pieces of the puzzle that once assembled produce a community of learners at Manzo Elementary School. (ADE)

A group of Arizona state legislators has introduced a bill that would strip local school boards of the authority to select textbooks. Under the bill, the Arizona State Board of Education would have sole authority to approve a uniform set of books for the state's 1,900 school districts and charter schools. In addition, the state would buy and distribute the books. Senator Robert Blendu believes the bill will end what he characterized as local school districts "experimenting with education." He stated that the bill will ensure that all schools have a sufficient number of up to date textbooks and teaching materials for every student. Art Harding, an Arizona Department of Education lobbyist, contends that statewide uniformity of textbooks will ensure that all students are being taught the state's mandatory grade-by-grade learning standards. (NSBA)

The Arizona Department of Education has developed the Best Practices Unit; 21st Century Community Learning Centers

The Arizona Department of Education must hold a competition for the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants. Schools public/private and faith based organizations are eligible. The focus of this funding is student achievement; programs are for students and their families and must be held during out-of-school time. Programs must take place in a safe and easily accessible facility. In addition awardees must serve students who primarily attend schools with concentrations of students from low- income families.

AZ LEARNS Achievement Profiles offers an on-line database of school performance based on NCLB and state standards.

Recruitment and Retention


Arizona has policies that support financial incentives for teacher recruitment.  In addition there are initiatives supporting targeted recruitment programs, teacher tenure and retirement, career ladder, and statewide teacher mobility.

State-Level Differentiated Teacher Compensation Program: Arizona has career ladder, optional performance incentives, and performance pay programs for educators.
ARS §15-918 thru 920 
Arizona State Board of Education

Components of Differentiated Teacher Compensation Program: Arizona's Differentiated Teacher Compensation Programs are structured in the form of a career ladder and optional performance incentive program. The career ladder program requires at least improved or advanced teaching skill for advancement to a higher level and other components such as additional higher level instructional responsibilities and demonstration of student academic progress. The optional performance incentive program is based on principles of effective organizations, teamwork, parental and pupil involvement and support of teachers.
ARS §15-918 thru 920
Arizona State Board of Education

Statewide Financial Incentives: The Classroom Site Fund provides funds for teacher compensation programs. Teacher compensation increases based on performance or teacher base salary increases supplement teacher compensation monies from other sources.
ARS §15-977

Alternative Routes to Certification: The Alternative Secondary Path to Certification is a pilot professional preparation program authorized by the Arizona State Board of Education for the school year 2005-2006 and will end June 30, 2007.
Arizona State Board of Education
Alternative Secondary Path to Certification

Teaching Opportunities for Retired Teachers: Retired educators may receive full pension benefits and salary, subject to limitations on working hours. A retired member who is engaged to work by an employer for at least 20 weeks in each fiscal year and at least 20 hours per week resumes active membership in the Arizona State Retirement System.
ARS §38-766.
ARS §38-766.01

Classroom Discipline Policies: Arizona has classroom discipline policies that encompass penalties for excessive absenteeism, procedures for the use of corporal punishment, procedures for dealing with students who have committed or are believed to have committed a crime as well as procedures and conditions for the readmission of students who have been expelled or suspended for more than 10 days.
ARS §15-843.
ARS §15-521

Requirements for Tenure: A certified teacher attains tenure upon employment with a school district for more than the major portion of three consecutive school years and an offer for continued employment/contract renewal for the succeeding school year.
ARS §15-538.01

Rights of Tenure: Tenured teachers in Arizona may be dismissed for immoral or unprofessional conduct, inadequacy of classroom performance, conduct in violation of the rules, and good or just cause. Tenured teachers are also entitled to a hearing before the Arizona State Board of Education and to appeal dismissal decisions to the superior court if necessary.
ARS §15-539
ARS §15-541
ARS §15-543

State Retirement Policies: Retired teachers may receive full pension benefits and salary, subject to limitations on working hours. A retired member who is engaged to work by an employer for at least 20 weeks in each fiscal year and at least 20 hours per week resumes active membership in the Arizona State Retirement System.
ARS §38-766 
ARS §38-766.01 
ARS §38-711 thru 38-794 State Retirement System

Statewide Pension Policies: At retirement, a person may begin receiving contributions based upon years of credited service and as determined by the Arizona State Retirement System.
ARS §38-711 
ARS §38-739 
ARS §38-757 
ARS §38-711 thru 38-794 State Retirement System

Teacher Recognition Programs and Policies: The Arizona Teacher of the Year program spotlights the contributions of Arizona's teachers as it recognizes five exceptionally skilled and dedicated pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public school teachers. Teachers of the Year receive cash, a laptop computer, and have multiple opportunities during the year to make public appearances throughout the state.
Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year

Sabbatical Policies: Sabbatical leaves of absence may be granted to certified teachers and administrators for the purpose of continuing professional education; the leave may not exceed one year and may only be granted to a certified teacher or administrator employed by the school district seven consecutive years immediately prior to the sabbatical. 
ARS §15-510

Teacher Exchange Policies: Teachers on exchange to Arizona may not be employed for more than one school year, except that by consent of the governing board or the Arizona Board of Regents and the two exchange teachers concerned, the period may be extended to two years. 
ARS §15-131 thru 135