elementary students classroom drawingOur third quarter visits to businesses as a part of our economic development initiative, Phoenix Forward, have made it crystal clear that Greater Phoenix business owners – who create over 80 percent of new jobs – have open positions waiting for qualified people.

It is our job as the state’s business and political leaders to take the steps to facilitate the creation of that adequately trained workforce.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s K-12 education funding measure, Proposition 123, combined with his renewed focus on supporting career & technical education (CTE) opportunities for Arizona students and the Legislature hopefully restoring funding for joint technical education districts (JTEDs), show that our elected leaders are taking bold action to ensure the students of today are equipped to lead successful lives tomorrow.

A critical component of rating the effectiveness of any education plan is determining how the results will be evaluated and how success will be defined. Key to this, of course, is measurement. We must know where we are to determine which direction to head to get to where we want to go.

In government, officials need to see the effectiveness of programs to decide where our precious state dollars will be most effectively spent. This feedback is especially relevant in K-12 education, which accounts for close to 20 percent of the state budget.

It is vital for both our education leaders and lawmakers to have the most up-to-date information on how our students and schools are performing. Our statewide education assessment provides that information. It gives leaders and parents a glimpse into whether our state’s education policies are producing desired outcomes. It lets them know what is working and what needs to be reassessed.

Taking this information away, or diluting it so it is no longer an accurate representation of our student population, would be a mistake. Approving HB 2056 would provide an opt-out of taking the statewide assessment and would take important information away from decision makers, teachers and parents for no benefit. Statewide assessments are critical measures for school accountability and performance and a key component of every educational system.

We owe it to our business community and to our education leaders, and most of all, we owe it to parents and students to use every tool we have to provide as many educational options as possible as part of a world-class education system in Arizona. HB 2056 takes away a vital evaluation tool, and for that reason, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce along with several other organizations urges a NO vote on this bill.

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