The purpose of this research paper is to examine the current state of Arizona's public K-12 education system and offer tangible solutions to improve it. An overview of the state's educational funding and performative rankings reveals a deeply disadvantaged system that especially disadvantages low income students. Arizona continually ranks in the bottom quartile in the nation for both K-12 performance and public education spending. By examining the best practices employed by some of the highest-ranking school systems in the world and reconfiguring them to fit Arizona, the state can significantly improve its national and international rankings. Research was conducted into four Scandinavian countries and four Southeast Asian countries selected based on 2016 K-12 Achievement Scores, Gross National Happiness Index, National 2016 Social Progress Index, and the 2016 Social Mobility Index as follows: Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and China (Hong Kong). After dissecting each countries' public school characteristics and funding formula, it was clear that each block of countries offered different solutions to the problems presented by Arizona's current educational climate. Namely increasing the efficacy of social welfare programs that directly impact low income students in K-12, improving statewide teacher certification standards, modeling the school year to be more like Southeast Asian countries to reduce summer learning loss, and facilitating an "educational culture" similar to that of Japan.
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