Superintendent Douglas Highlights 2016 Education Accomplishments

(Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 27, 2016) – Today Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas celebrates significant education achievements implemented throughout 2016 under her leadership at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).

“I am extremely proud of the work my team at the Arizona Department of Education has done to improve our state’s education system,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I consider these accomplishments a victory for all of the students, teachers and parents in Arizona.”

Superintendent Douglas recently released the second version of her AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan, a comprehensive strategy to fix Arizona’s education system which is available at www.azed.gov/weheardyou. This plan was developed around public feedback received from her annual statewide tour, which has included a combination of more than 30, both rural and urban, communities throughout the state. Douglas’ plan includes many new proposals in addition to outlining the accomplishments and progress made throughout 2016. Follow her continuing accomplishments on Facebook or Twitter.

Superintendent Douglas Concludes 2016 We Are Listening Tour

Superintendent Douglas concludes her 2016 We Are Listening Tour on December 15, visiting 17 different communities throughout Arizona and completing three virtual tours.

“Our vast and diverse state has provided many great ideas that I will work to implement in my upcoming years as your elected Superintendent of Public Instruction,” said Douglas. “Some of these ideas may be completed through internal changes at ADE, while others may require legislative changes. Either way, I promise to do my very best to make sure every Arizonan’s voice is heard.”

Upon taking office, Douglas pledged to conduct an annual statewide tour to hear the concerns and suggestions of citizens regarding Arizona’s education system. The We Are Listening Tour is set to continue in the spring of 2017. The tour schedule will be available at www.azed.gov/weheardyou .

Superintendent Douglas Pursues More Funding for Education

Superintendent Douglas continues to pursue more funding for education to provide students, teachers, schools and families the support and resources needed to improve outcomes.

“I still hear everywhere I go that Arizonans want more funding for their schools,” stated Superintendent Douglas. “With that in mind, I am posing this question: As a state, do we want Arizona to have the best education system in the world or simply the cheapest system we can get by with politically?”

Douglas’ recent launch of the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan proposes an additional $680 million increase for schools to provide the  education system the proper funding to excel. The new funding proposals follow:

  • $200 million increase for basic state aid to be used as decided by local school districts and charter schools.
  • $140 million for a 5 percent classroom teacher salaries increase to retain current teachers and recruit new professionals to the career.
  • $20 million for rural school transportation funding to compensate for longer distances traveled.
  • $40 million for rural schools to provide adequate support and services for their unique populations.
  • $180 million to fully fund capital for schools to build new buildings as needed.
  • $100 million to fully fund building renewal for school facilities to maintain buildings.

Arizona Standards for Arizona’s Students

Superintendent Douglas fulfills her campaign pledge to sever the state’s ties to the nationally developed Common Core standards and create Arizona standards for Arizona’s students.

“One of my top campaign promises was to move Arizona away from Common Core, and I am pleased that we have taken several steps to ensure our state’s children and parents once again have access to the best possible standards that have been tailored to fit the unique needs of Arizonans,” said Douglas.

Throughout 2016, ADE and the State Board of Education worked collaboratively to revise the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math Standards. After robust public feedback and further revisions by the standards working groups, ADE is proud to announce that the State Board of Education voted to approve the Arizona Mathematics Standards and the Arizona ELA Standards at the Dec. 19 meeting.

In 2016, Douglas also developed a schedule to review academic standards on a consistent and timely basis with extensive public input to ensure Arizona’s standards represent the best interest of students. Since the development of this schedule, ADE opened public comment on the Science and Social Studies standards for revisions to begin in 2017.

Previously, Superintendent Douglas praised the State Board of Education’s 6-2 vote in October  2015 to remove Common Core standards and allow for the review and revision to the standards where necessary so that they meet the needs of Arizona students.

Superintendent Douglas Enriches Arizona’s Cultures and Languages

Superintendent Douglas encourages the enrichment of Arizona’s cultural diversity by praising multilingual students and creating councils and action committees to improve outcomes for different student populations.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, Superintendent Douglas established education action committees and councils to engage members of the community in an effort to support minority students and encourage cultural inclusivity across the state.

Superintendent Douglas also promoted the introduction and passage of the statutory establishment of the Seal of Biliteracy Program to recognize students who are able to attain high-level proficiency in both English and one or more additional languages.

“I entered office with a goal of opening doors for students and the Seal of Biliteracy does just that,” stated Douglas. “This program incentivizes our students to focus on mastering languages beyond English and steers our state in the right direction as we work to establish Arizona as a leader in world languages. I am thrilled that this proposal from my 2016 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan became a reality!”

The Seal of Biliteracy Program officially launches in 2017 for schools to participate.

Superintendent Douglas Introduces the Zip Code Project

Superintendent Douglas introduces a new project focused on underserved and disconnected youth in high-need communities throughout Arizona called the Zip Code Project.

The Zip Code Project builds partnerships with community-based organizations to enhance services provided to youth in Arizona ages 16 to 24 who are unemployed and not in school.

“All children and young adults, regardless of where they live, deserve a chance to pursue their dreams and our mission with the Zip Code Project is to help these young adults get back on a path to a successful, happy and productive life,” stated Douglas.

Because of its swift success, Superintendent Douglas unveils Zip Code Project 2.0, a new proposal in the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan to enhance and expand the current project with the goal to establish a presence in more than  16 zip codes throughout Arizona.

Superintendent Douglas Strengthens Parental Involvement in Education

Superintendent Douglas celebrates a statewide focus to more actively engage parents and families in a child’s education as a means to positively impact student outcomes.

In the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan, Superintendent Douglas proposes a new objective targeted at expanding parental involvement through a program called Read 20. ADE will partner with education organizations and programs to promote parents and caregivers reading with their children 20 minutes a day.

In 2015, Douglas created the ADE Family Engagement Initiative to provide schools enhanced resources and proven practices that can help strengthen and sustain relationships with families. Since its inception, ADE has launched an agency-wide push to increase family engagement in schools and has offered educators professional development opportunities for high-impact family engagement.

 What to Look Forward to in 2017

Superintendent Douglas will devote 2017 to implementing the proposals of the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan.

“I am fully committed to working with the Governor and the legislators, alongside parents, teachers, students, school administrators, and business and community leaders to make Arizona’s education system the best in the nation,” stated Douglas.

Superintendent Douglas looks forward to the submission of a State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education required by the Every Student Succeeds Act that reinvigorates state and local control of the education system. The State Plan includes Arizona’s vision for our unique state and will include topics such as accountability, funding, school improvement and grant-making systems.

Douglas thanks the many people that positively impacted education in 2016, stating, “I believe that classroom teachers have the most important job in the world, and that’s to educate our children, so I thank them for their dedication to educating our children. I would also like to thank administrators, education organizations, governing board members and my staff for their commitment to education in Arizona.”