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State will not issue school letter grades, governor orders learning-loss study

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Posted at 3:13 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 18:26:12-05

PHOENIX — Arizona schools will not receive A-F letter grades for the 2020-2021 school year. This, after Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill Monday pausing the state's school grading system, due to the unique circumstances families and students have faced during the pandemic this last year.

The system was also paused last year for the 2019-2020 school year, as districts across the state navigated school closures and remote learning.

The governor also issued an executive order Tuesday, instructing the Arizona Board of Education to utilize AZM2 (AZMerit) Assessment data from this school year to "draw comparisons to prior years and identify the extent of learning loss that has occurred." He goes on to write in a letter to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, "This data will then be used to ensure targeted and evidence-based strategies for acceleration."

Students are scheduled to take the AZM2 test this spring, starting in April, and those test results typically dictate what letter grades schools receive from the state. Those letter grades are then tied to the amount of funding a district receives.

While the Arizona Department of Education pushed for a suspension, the governor also made it clear this is a temporary change.

"Any future attempts to suspend this grading system will require a much greater level of justification," he said.