By Dr. Matthew Ladner, the Director of the Arizona Center for Student Opportunity at the Arizona Charter Schools Association

Santa CRUUUUUUUUUZ Knocks the Ball Out of the K-12 Park Again!

When I was a kid growing up in Texas it was great fun to go watch the Astros play. The Astrodome had a crazy electronic scoreboard set up and the crowd would go wild when the team’s star player got announced as being up to bat, even crazier when he would hit a home run. !!!!!Jose CRUUUUUUUUUUZ!!!!! the Astros fanatics shouted at the top of their lungs early and often. This memory came to mind when Stanford University released academic data from across the country and Santa Cruz County in Arizona hit yet another academic dinger out of the park.

So, a bit of background before we get to the good news. The Stanford University Opportunity Project has gone to the hard work of linking state K-12 academic exams from across the country, allowing us to compare academic outcomes in Bangor Maine to those in Bagby California and most all places in-between. The Stanford scholars allow comparisons between schools, school district and charter school combinations and counties. The released new data including 2017 results recently and you can examine the data for yourself here.

Okay so now that the preliminaries over, you may recall a post from an earlier batch of Stanford data that also documented the positive academic momentum in Santa Cruz county. Can Santa Cruz do it again?

Both district and charter schools in the Nogales region contributed to the strong gains. Mexicayotl Academy lead the entire state in the rate of academic improvement and had among the highest rates in the country.

The chart below includes every county in the United States that the Stanford scholars were able to measure for academic growth for low-income children. Counties with above average growth are colored green, those with below average growth blue. Way at the top and marked with the orange number one sits Santa Cruz County Arizona with a rate 29.3% above the national average. It’s the third highest rate for low-income students in the country.

Santa Cruz did have competition from other Arizona counties. Low-income students in Maricopa County had the highest rate of academic growth for low-income children among large urban counties around the country at 19.3% (the big green circle on the 20% improvement line in the chart above represents Maricopa County). Several other Arizona Counties demonstrated strong growth as well, but none could match Santa Cruz.

Nationally we see more blue than green, meaning that far too many low-income students did not learn a year’s worth of academics per academic year. Not a lot of blue to be found in Arizona and we need to keep it that way. Congratulations to the students and educators of Santa Cruz County for another all-star performance.