Opinion

Eskildson: SUSD leaders ignore declining student achievement

Posted 3/22/21

SUSD proudly declares it provides “Education Excellence” because its “average scores exceed Arizona standards at all levels.”

However, they fail to also point out that …

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Opinion

Eskildson: SUSD leaders ignore declining student achievement

Posted

SUSD proudly declares it provides “Education Excellence” because its “average scores exceed Arizona standards at all levels.”

However, they fail to also point out that those Arizona standards are simply arbitrarily-determined minimum Arizona standards.

SUSD high-school pupil achievement levels have been declining for at least 16 years, a recent Stanford analysis found its overall grade 3–8 grade achievement levels were below expectations when students’ overall favorable socioeconomic background are taken into account.

U.S. News/World Report overall rankings of SUSD high-schools have sunk to No. 5 in the Phoenix area, and a Bush Education Institute’s comparison of SUSD scores vs. world math performance concluded they were below those of all other developed nations and about four academic years behind world leaders.

SUSD has no goals for improving pupil achievement in response to these adverse achievement trends, ratings, and poor performance levels. Rather than rally staff to rapidly improve SUSD graduates’ skill levels to much more competitive levels, the board and administration have ignored and hidden these data/trends, thereby misleading parents deciding where to enroll their children, and to rate SUSD much higher than warranted.

Worst of all, after incurring substantial additional learning losses via COVID-19 necessitated online learning, district leaders then decided to reduce future learning time by a half-day/week so teachers could instead receive added training — training widely shown to be of little/no value in boosting pupil achievement.

SUSD clearly doesn’t care about providing graduates with the skills needed in our increasingly globally-competitive world. SUSD graduates are also not being properly-prepared to face a coming economic tsunami created by major job losses due to rapidly expanding use of Artificial Intelligence and robotics.

SUSD leaders’ focus instead is on avoiding accountability and the need to substantially improve performance.

This is neither “Providing Education Excellence” nor “Ensuring all individual learners reach their full potential” as SUSD leaders claim. Instead, it is Consumer Fraud (per the Arizona Attorney General’s definition), professional negligence, and conduct discrediting the teaching profession.

Editor’s Note: Loyd Eskildson is a longtime Scottsdale Unified School District resident and former chief deputy superintendent of Maricopa County School Superintendent’s Office.

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