Achievement Trends of Schools and Students in Arizona’s Title I School Improvement Program

Primary Researchers: Eric Crane, Vanessa Barrat, Min Huang

Publication Date: July 2011

This Technical Brief describes for 2005/06–2008/09 the numbers and distribution of Arizona public schools and students across school levels (elementary, middle, high) for three school types: Title I Schools in Improvement (participating in the school improvement program, a public program to improve the academic performance of students in schools not meeting adequate yearly progress for at least two consecutive years); Title I Schools Not in Improvement; and non–Title I schools.

Research Questions

This study addresses four research questions on Arizona public schools and students:

  • How are schools and students distributed across school levels and school types, and how did this distribution change over 2005/06–2008/09?
  • For each school level, how are Title I Schools in Improvement, and students in those schools, distributed by school improvement status?
  • How do student proficiency rates in reading and math vary by school level and 2008/09 school type, and how did these rates change over 2005/06–2008/09 in schools defined by their 2008/09 school type?
  • Among 2008/09 Title I schools, what was the pattern of movement in and out of school improvement?


The Arizona Department of Education Office of Data Management provided statewide school-level data files from AZ LEARNS, Arizona’s school and district accountability mechanism. The files included data on school type, school improvement status, and school level for 2005/06–2008/09.

Data analysis consisted of: classifying school level, determining reading and math proficiency, choosing a sample for trends in reading and math proficiency, calculating percentages of students proficient in reading and math, and tracking Title I school movement in and out of the school improvement program.

Key Findings

  • The number and percentage of Arizona Schools in Improvement are growing. Of Arizona’s 1,912 public schools in 2008/09, 1,181 (62 percent) received Title I funding. Of those 1,181, 306 (26 percent) were in Improvement; in 2005/06, 1,119 of 1,988 public schools (56 percent) received Title I funding, and 154 (14 percent) of those schools were in Improvement.
  • In 2008/09, more Arizona Title I middle schools (52 percent) than Title I elementary schools (18 percent) and Title I high schools (39 percent) were in Improvement.
  • Reading and math proficiency increased over the study period for students in all three school types, based on 2008/09 school type. In 2008/09, Arizona Title I Schools in Improvement had student proficiency rates of 43–61 percent, Title I Schools Not in Improvement had rates of 60–71 percent, and non–Title I schools had rates of 76–84 percent. But since 2005/06, the Schools in Improvement in 2008/09 had made proficiency gains of 5–9 percentage points, more than Title I Schools Not in Improvement (3–7 percentage points) and non–Title I schools (<1–4 percentage points).
  • Among the 978 schools receiving Title I funding throughout the study period, more schools, both by number and percentage, entered the school improvement program than left it. Of the 132 Title I Schools in Improvement when the study period began, 27 (20 percent) improved enough to leave the program before it ended (1 reentered); of the 846 Title I Schools Not in Improvement when the study period began, 195 (23 percent) performed poorly enough to enter before it ended.

Many states are seeing more Title I schools consistently failing to reach adequate yearly progress (Center on Education Policy 2010). Arizona is no different. And though the state’s reading and math proficiency grew steadily over the study period, its number of Schools in Improvement doubled, showing that adequate yearly progress targets are outpacing performance improvements.

  • Published: July 2011
  • Research Type: Technical Brief
  • Methodologies: Descriptive
  • Contact info:
    Eric Crane 916.492.4080

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