88 percent less paperwork to get federal dollars / more rapid kindergarten assessments
PHOENIX – Cutting red tape and unnecessary administrative burdens on educators is one of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne’s primary goals so that they can spend more time on teaching academics to the students. Today Horne is announcing a major initiative in that effort.
Each year, federal law requires schools to file a Comprehensive Needs Assessment explaining the tools and strategies needed to improve academic performance in order to receive Title I money for low-income schools and other federal formula grants. Horne has directed that requirement to be reduced from a massive 168 questions to 20 questions.
Horne explained, “The previous Comprehensive Needs Assessment was weighed down with absurd measurements regarding Social Emotional Learning (SEL), which many teachers have complained is just a series of games that detract from teaching reading and math.”
He added, “The prior emphasis on SEL issues meant the report grew to an unmanageable 80 pages with 168 questions. Now there are 20 questions on six pages, all devoted to improving core academics.”
The department is also implementing a significantly updated tool for the yearly Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) pilot program. It reduces administration time by more than 80 percent, permitting rapid identification of critical student needs. Now teachers will be able to spend more time on classroom instruction.
These changes have been warmly received by many Arizona educators. Erik Francis, a consultant specializing in improving failing schools said, “For the last two administrations, the Arizona Department of Education has placed an unnecessary and unmerited burden of paperwork on schools. This has caused schools to be more focused on paperwork rather than implementing the goals, strategies, and action steps to serve schools. I am enthused to see the current administration is more assistive, open, and supportive than it has been in a decade.”
Mia Vega, the Superintendent of Legacy Traditional Schools, added, “Kudos to Superintendent Horne and AZED for streamlining forms and cutting red tape. Less time navigating bureaucracy means more time focusing on students for our educators.”