Striving for Excellence: K-12 Education
Arizona faces many challenges in the coming years. Balancing water resources with urban development, mining operations that maintain the integrity of our land and natural resources, and preserving our history while looking ahead are just a few of the complex issues faced by the next generations. We must invest in the future to give students the skills they need to meet these challenges with integrity.
Arizona is exploring ways of engaging students to become a vibrant workforce in the 21st century. Administrators emphasize the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills. New curricula teach students to be independent thinkers by encouraging creativity, demanding communication, instilling research skills, inviting analysis and promoting digital literacy. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (known collectively as STEM) education plays a central role.
Leadership in the biotech, aerospace, solar energy, and nanotechnology industries gives rise to innovative curricula and school programming, both in K–12 and in Arizona’s Universities (LINK). Experts in these fields help educators inspire young minds with both in-classroom and out of the classroom learning activities. A broad system of vocational schools lets students develop skills for direct application to Arizona’s industries. Finally, a growing system of charter schools gives parents a choice in high quality, specialized education that drives a student to achieve his or her maximum potential. Read on for a sample of the state’s outstanding educational opportunities.
Arizona has one of the best charter school programs in the country, with a number of institutions garnering high national rankings. Charter schools provide academic choices beyond a student’s school district. Charter schools receive money from the state based on student attendance. A parent can choose to send their K–12 student to any charter school, and there are many to choose from. Every charter school has its own individual mission or vision. Some specialize in a certain subject or group of subjects such as STEM; some implement innovative teaching methods.
The ten BASIS schools in Arizona use an accelerated curriculum where students participate in Advanced Placement courses and complete required coursework in three years. They then have the option to graduate or to stay and complete a senior project that emphasizes independent learning and creative thinking. A dedicated staff helps students meet the demands of the high expectations, while an array of unusual extracurricular activities (roller derby, cycling, fencing, and robo-rocketry, to name a few) keeps students engaged. In 2013, BASIS Tucson and BASIS Scottsdale ranked #1 and #3 Charter Schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
The K–12 Sonoran Schools franchise strives to be America's premier STEM school organization, providing a rigorous, college-prep, STEM-focused education through an engaging curriculum, dedicated teachers, and ongoing performance assessment. In 2013, Sonoran Science Academy Tucson ranked fifteenth Schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
Located in Flagstaff, the 6–12 charter school Northland Preparatory Academy was founded by parents in 1996 to provide a coordinated, individualized program of study that promotes academic excellence and provides educational opportunities for serious middle and high school students, regardless of gender, ethnic origin, economic or academic ability. Northland Prep, ranked twenty-second Schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
The Chandler Preparatory Academy charter school provides a comprehensive liberal arts education to help students prepare for the demands of college. Chandler Prep is a member of the prestigious Great Hearts Academies network of prep schools that serves metro Phoenix.