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The A+ School of Excellence Award® is open to any Arizona state accredited public school or any school operating under the Bureau of Indian Education, and any combination of grades Pre-K through 12. To be eligible, schools must fulfill all eligibility requirements.

Important Changes to A+ Application Process for 2023–2024 Cycle

Recognizing the challenges our Arizona schools and districts have experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic began; and, in appreciation for the incredible way that school employees have shown extreme dedication, AEF is temporarily revising the A+ School of Excellence application process for the 2023-2024 cycle (applications due on August 31, 2023).

Traditionally, schools seeking A+ status must have received an “A” or “B” letter grade from the Arizona Department of Education for the most recently completed school year.

Given the circumstances, AEF will accept applications from 2023–2024 schools who do not have an “A” or “B” letter grade from ADE who can demonstrate achievement and growth expected of an A+ School of Excellence. These particular applicant schools will be provided with an additional link to upload data sets. Data sets should include both quantitative data reports that show student growth levels and academic achievement (Example: Benchmark data generated from platforms such as ATI/Galileo, iReady Diagnostics, SchoolCity, etc.) as well as qualitative data showing perceptions around how the school is doing with educating students (such as parent surveys). Data may be derived from the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.

If you believe your school qualifies under this special provision, please contact Dr. Teresa Hill at


To be considered for the A+ School of Excellence Award, schools begin by submitting an online written application. Application submissions are reviewed by a panel of experienced judges comprised primarily of A+ School principals along with superintendents and other district administrators. Panels may also include teachers from A+ Schools, higher education personnel, and other Pre-K-12 professionals. Applications should center around what makes your school exemplary.

The A+ School of Excellence Award is a multi-step process:

  • Step 3: If the written application is successful, schools are granted a site visit. Schools who do not receive a site visit are provided with written feedback and encouraged to incorporate that feedback in submitting a new application for the next cycle.

  • Step 4: Schools receiving site visits are visited by a team of judges who vet the programs and activities described in the written application. Site visits are a day and a half.

  • Step 5: Schools who have successful site visits are given the A+ Award. Schools who are unsuccessful are encouraged to reapply and are provided with written feedback and encouraged to incorporate that feedback in submitting a new application for the next cycle.


Schools selected for the award receive $500 and a banner for display on campus. A school retains the A+ designation for four full school years as long as they remain an “A” or “B” school and continue to exhibit the exceptional qualities that are the hallmark of A+ Schools. Schools that earn the award agree to comply with AEF™ authorized logo and name usage requirements related to the A+ School of Excellence™ designation.


Dr. Teresa Hill, AEF® Deputy Director | 520-591-0972 |


2023–2024 Application Cycle Timeline


  1. Application deadline is 5:00pm MST, August 31st, 2023

  2. Late September 2023: Applications are reviewed by panels of A+ judges

  3. October 2023: Schools are notified if a site visit will be conducted

  4. November 2023 - January 2024: Site visits are conducted 

  5. Mid-February 2024: A+ School of Excellence™ winners are announced/Award ceremonies occur

Renewal School Timeline


Schools renewing their A+ designation will reapply at the beginning of their fourth year. NOTE: A “renewal school” is a school applying for another consecutive term as an A+ school. Schools with a lapse in years are not considered renewals.

  • 2019 Awarded Schools reapply August 31st, 2023 (notified Spring 2024)

  • 2020 Awarded Schools reapply August 31st, 2024 (notified Spring 2025)

  • 2022 Awarded Schools reapply August 31st, 2025 (notified Spring 2026)

  • 2023 Awarded Schools reapply August 31st, 2026 (notified Spring 2027)

Note: The renewal timeline above reflects a change in award term made in 2020, allowing schools to keep their status for 4 years rather than the previous 3 1/2.

Non-Renewal and New Applicant Schools Timeline


A school earning the A+ award in SPRING 2024 will have the award as follows:

  • August 2024 - August 2025 – YEAR ONE

  • August 2025 - August 2026 – YEAR TWO

  • August 2026 - August 2027 – YEAR THREE. Schools renewing submit applications in August 2026.

  • August 2027 - August 2028 – YEAR FOUR. Schools will have their new application reviewed in Fall 2026 and a site visit (if granted) during Winter/Spring their Year Four.

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