Reason Foundation: Legislation in Arizona Would Pave the Way for Educational Innovation

Originally published by Aaron Garth Smith and Christian Barnard, on March 16, 2021 on the Reason Foundation’s blog.

Despite widespread advances in technology and educational research in recent decades, most states use a one-size-fits-all public education model that looks largely the same as it did a century ago. But Arizona has been an outlier, leading the way in expanding educational opportunities and providing families with options that allow them to find a school that best fits the needs of their students.  Now, policymakers in Arizona are once blazing education innovation trails with a bill that would give educators even greater flexibility to adopt learning models that fit the unique needs of students…

…Arizona’s House Bill (HB) 2862 would change this by allowing Arizona public schools to create their own instructional time models to accommodate learning that occurs outside of classroom walls and traditional school days. After at least two public hearings, the legislation would enable governing boards to decide to deliver the required instructional hours through any combination of direct instruction, project-based learning, independent learning, and mastery-based learning, with expanded flexibility for structuring remote options. These hours could then be used to satisfy the time requirements that are used to calculate funding and ensure that all students are receiving adequate amounts of instruction.

Importantly, HB 2862 would also give public schools the flexibility to reallocate per-pupil instructional hours between courses so that they can better align content with students’ needs, recognizing some subjects are more complex and require more time to master.

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