Academic Achievement

Despite improvement since our last report, student performance in Arizona is below average. On the NAEP reading exam, only about 28% of both 4th and 8th graders stand at or above the proficient level. The national average is 34% and 35%, respectively.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Arizona earns a low grade in academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Only 15% of low-income 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading exam.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Arizona is high relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

Arizona posts mediocre marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Arizona earns a below average grade preparing its students for college and careers with only 14 students out of 100 passing an AP exam. 

21st Century Teacher Force

Arizona does an average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The Grand Canyon State performs poorly removing ineffective teachers. 

Parental Options

Arizona does an excellent job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state has a strong charter school law and multiple tax credit scholarship programs for students to attend a school of choice. 

Data Quality

Arizona earns an average grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. While the state has built a data repository, available data cannot be effectively accessed and used by stakeholders.


Arizona receives an average grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. While the state provides students with access to high-quality online content, students are not able to advance based on demonstrated competency.

International Competitiveness

Arizona earns a low grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy. Only a quarter of students are proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard and only about 6 in 100 students pass an AP STEM exam.

Fiscal Responsibility

Arizona receives above average marks on fiscal responsibility. Almost 75% of the state’s pension is funded, and the state’s most recent pension contribution was more than 100%.