Arizona Star digs into Tucson school performance

The Arizona Star has done an amazing piece of in-depth reporting on student grades and school performance in the Tucson area. Their project took over ten months, untold open records requests, and digging through the 3 million student grade records they received.

Ultimately, the Star found that in the nine school districts they reviewed, “many more students were being promoted yearly than were passing classes.” For my readers who have not bought into the soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to public education, that’s a remarkable finding.

One school district–Amphitheater Public Schools–refused to comply with the Star’s FOIA requests, saying that the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) made compliance illegal. I wonder if someone at Amphitheatre Public Schools will call up the feds and blow the whistle on the other eight school districts. Nah. That’s because the other eight school districts redacted personally identifiable information, just like APS could have.

One main finding from this mega-study is how hard it was for the newspaper to pull the information they sought out of the data. If it was that hard for them, this suggests to me that the school districts themselves haven’t figured out the correlations that the newspaper ultimately discovered. That’s a problem.

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