ADE to Partner With Center for Student Achievement

(Phoenix, Ariz., May 18, 2017) – Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced today a partnership with the Center for Student Achievement in an effort to help support teachers and leaders in rural schools. As an approved School Improvement Supporting Partner and Professional Development Contractor through the State Procurement Office, the Center for Student Achievement provides customized support for both districts and charter schools through its school improvement research, data analysis and professional development.

The Center for Student Achievement’s professional trainers travel over 50,000 miles annually to provide customized, on-site coaching and professional development to teachers and leaders across Arizona. Grounded in research from nationally-respected studies, the Center for Student Achievement developed a suite of data-driven programs currently in use by over 90 district and charter schools, as well as at schools on Native American reservations.

“Providing customized support for teachers and leaders in rural schools was featured prominently in my AZ Kids Can’t Wait! Plan,” Superintendent Douglas said. “By teaming up with the Center for Student Achievement, we will provide invaluable training to help level the playing field for small, rural schools throughout this great state.”

In 2016, schools new to the Center for Student Achievement’s three-year school support program doubled their rate of improvement in math, with an average AzMERIT math pass rate of six percentage points higher than in the previous year. Of the hundreds of teachers who attend the Center for Student Achievement’s trainings, 98.9% of them would recommend the sessions to a peer or colleague.

Those interested in learning more about the Center for Student Achievement can log on to http://centerforstudentachievement.org/.

ADE to Kick Off Summer Food Program

(Phoenix, Ariz., May 17, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced the launch of the Arizona Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a summer meal reimbursement program for children ranging from newborns to 18 years old. The SFSP provides children in low- income areas the opportunity to receive a nutritious meal while school is not in session during the summer.

“Our job in education is to give children every opportunity to pursue their hopes and dreams,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Studies have shown that hunger has a negative effect on the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of children. If they are not properly nourished and healthy, their road to success becomes an uphill battle.”

SFSP sites, which can be a school or a non-profit organization like a YMCA or a Boys & Girls Club, must be in eligible areas where the percentage of children approved for free or reduced-priced lunch is 50 percent or higher. Sponsors are allowed to serve two meals or a meal and a snack per day.

Glendale, Chandler and Flagstaff Unified are just some of the school districts that are participating in the SFSP. On June 5, the Blue Ridge School District will be the first to launch the program by hosting a kick-off event that will include the community’s mayor and actor Danny Diaz from the movie McFarland USA.

Those interested in locating SFSP sites in their area, as well as their operating dates and times, can log on to https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks and type in their address or zip code or text FOOD to 877-877.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Names New Chief Information Officer

(Phoenix, Ariz., May, 2017) – Dramatic cuts to the FY2018 budget for the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE) information technology system have resulted in the departure of the department’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Diane Douglas, the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction announced today.

Mark Masterson, ADE CIO, will leave the department to pursue other opportunities. Masterson spearheaded ADE’s transition to the state’s new student data system. During his tenure, the ADE technology team was named one of CIO magazine’s “Top 100 Most Innovative IT Organizations in 2015.”

“I’m not the type of person to just maintain the current system in its unfinished state,” Masterson said. “It looks like the state does not plan to finish AzEDS or begin the replacement of APOR and CHAR, so there is little to keep me here.”

Mark Masterson has given notice he will be departing August 1, 2017 to insure a smooth transition. ADE Chief Technology Officer Satish Pattisapu, one of the leaders of this renowned team, has been named CIO.

Pattisapu has supervised ADE IT activities including software development and quality assurance since 2011.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a leader like Satish who can immediately step in to oversee all of our continuing IT efforts,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Under his leadership, I am confident that our IT team will continue to perform despite the limited resources that are available.”

Douglas has been a strong supporter of technology development and data security in Arizona education since taking office.

“Mark Masterson has done an incredible job at replacing SAIS with AzEDS and it is extremely unfortunate that we are losing him,” stated the Superintendent.

The ADE IT system distributes more than $5 billion of state aid to Arizona schools. In FY2017 ADE received a one-time budget allocation of $7.3 million in dedicated IT funding. In the FY2018 budget, ADE will receive the same amount which will hamper efforts to update antiquated school payment systems. The Department requested $17.6 million to maintain and complete its IT projects.

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Superintendent Douglas Kicks Off Annual We Are Listening Tour Town Hall Meetings in Phoenix

(Phoenix, Ariz., May 12, 2017 – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas will kick off her third annual We Are Listening Tour next week with three Town Hall meetings in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The first meeting is from 6-8 p.m. Monday, May 15, 2017 at Phoenix Union High School District Office, Governing Board Room (4502 N. Central Ave, Phoenix AZ 85012).

Additional meetings will be from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at Deer Valley Unified School District Office in the Governing Board Room (20402 N. 15th Ave, Phoenix AZ 85027) and from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at the Verna McClain Wellness Center (1030 E. Baseline Rd, Phoenix AZ 85042).

The We Are Listening Tour is designed to solicit and collect input from Arizona citizens about K-12 education policy. As part of her continual improvement process, Superintendent Douglas will listen to comments and concerns from Arizonans and use the feedback to develop education initiatives and policy in the AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).

Additional We Are Listening Tour meetings are planned throughout 2017 around much of the state. A full calendar of events and the current AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan can be found at www.azed.gov/beheardAZ. Citizens are encouraged to participate by a variety of means, including attending meetings or watching them broadcast live at www.youtube.com/AZDeptofEducation, emailing [email protected], or via Twitter using #BeHeardAZ or @azedschools.
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Empowerment Scholarship Account Statement Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas

Phoenix, Ariz. April 7, 2017 – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said today she supports the measured expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) as outlined in legislation signed yesterday by Gov. Doug Ducey.

Superintendent Douglas said, “The legislation signed yesterday will allow more parents to choose schools that best meet their children’s needs. As a supporter of educational choice in all its forms, I am pleased to see the ESA program expanded in a measured way that keeps oversight of how taxpayer dollars are spent with the Department. I applaud the work of the Legislature and Governor Ducey in expanding options for parents in Arizona.

“To ensure the program has the resources it needs to serve parents and fully account for allowable expenditures, I am calling on the Legislature to fund the administration of the program at the full four percent of ESA allocations as provided by law. Those additional monies will allow our staff to address the additional requirements set forth in the new law and properly manage the program as it grows.”

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Zip Code Project to Launch Two Key Phoenix Communities

(Phoenix, Ariz., April 29, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas kicked off the Phoenix launch of the Zip Code Project, a program at the Arizona Department of Education that assists disconnected youth. At the press conference on Thursday, integral members of the education community spoke to the continued development of the Zip Code Project in Phoenix neighborhoods, in addition to the work already accomplished in other parts of the state.

“It is impossible for our education system to prepare students to be successful citizens if they are not attending school,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Our mission with the Zip Code Project is to help these young adults get back on track to a fulfilling, happy and productive life. Our job is to give them every opportunity to get a first-class education, as well as a chance to pursue their hopes and dreams.”

The event was hosted in the South Phoenix at South Mountain High School, which along with Maryvale, are the two communities that were launched in the Phoenix area. Chinle and Ajo are the other two zip codes that have integrated the program into their communities.

Starting from the ground floor in 2015 with limited funding, Zip Code Manager Christopher Dickinson has collaborated and partnered with local clergy, community organizations, cities, neighborhoods, parole and probation officers, alternative high schools, as well as education and business leaders to assist these youth.
“The Zip Code Project leverages public-private partnerships to identify and implement solutions and resources to prevent to assist with dropout prevention and support alternative paths to success,” Dickinson said. “This is not an easy issue to combat, but I am grateful to all of the communities for their continuous support and dedication. I look forward to even further expansion of this program to more zip codes throughout the state in the near future.”

For more information on the program or to get involved, visit www.azed.gov/zipcode/.

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Superintendent Diane Douglas: “If We Pay Them, They Will Teach”

(Phoenix, Ariz., April 27, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today unveiled a proposal to permanently extend and expand Proposition 301 monies to a full 1 percent, which if supported by voters would result in an immediate 11 percent raise for teachers and $100 million for school facilities.

“My proposal would generate $400 million annually for teacher salaries and school buildings,” Douglas stated. “By setting aside the majority of this funding for teacher salaries, we will provide close to an 11 percent raise for teachers in the first year, which means nearly $5,000 more in take-home pay. Using the remaining funding for school facilities can help address another looming crisis, which is the depreciation of our school buildings and infrastructure.”

Thursday’s announcement was shared in Douglas’ presentation to the Arizona Business Education Coalition (ABEC), a group of Arizona business and education leaders committed to helping develop effective public education policy. Her announcement comes on the cusp of the Superintendent’s next annual statewide We Are Listening Tour, which is where these two critical issues were repeatedly brought to her attention. Click HERE for the entire ABEC presentation.

“Only an overarching vision and decisive action will allow us to solve our current education crises, the first of which is that teachers need to be paid more,” Douglas shared with the ABEC audience. “I thank the Governor and Legislature for making teacher pay an important part of their budget discussions this session, and I look forward to working with them to take this next step once a budget is finalized.”

Douglas’ proposal would dedicate $300 million per year to teacher salaries and $100 million per year to school capital repairs in the first two years. In years three and beyond, the plan calls for $350 million per year dedicated to teacher salaries and sets aside $50 million per year for school capital. Click HERE for the chart outlining the proposal.

Douglas also expressed support for the restructuring of current Proposition 301 funding to allocate even more money for teacher salaries.

For more information and updates about the proposal, visit www.azed.gov.

New Dyslexia Handbook Available to Support Families and Teachers

(Phoenix, Ariz., April 24, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today unveiled The Dyslexia Handbook, a new resource available for families and teachers to help identify and support students with Dyslexia.

The development of this handbook was the result of recent legislation sponsored by State Representative Jill Norgaard (R) LD-18 in House Bill 2202, permitting the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to create a resource to educate families and teachers about dyslexia.

“When I’ve toured the state during my We Are Listening Tour for the last two years, I’ve heard overwhelmingly that parents need more resources to help their children succeed,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I am appreciative of Representative Norgaard’s leadership on this issue to bring together parents and education organizations from around the state to collaborate with ADE and develop this important new resource.”

To celebrate this handbook launch, Representative Norgaard presented to the State Board of Education (SBE) about this new resource available and shared her next action to help decode dyslexia, which includes an increase of professional development opportunities for classroom teachers in the early identification of dyslexia. By her side at today’s SBE presentation were the many parents and education organizations that helped develop this new resource.

”I am very honored to have been a part of this team over the past nine months,” said Representative Norgaard. “This handbook will provide teachers and parents with a great tool to be able to decode dyslexia at an early age, and to provide focused intervention and resources to improve our literacy rates. I look forward to the success that this effort will yield.”

Improved student and parent resources were also priorities of Superintendent Douglas’ 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait!, an education plan to help shape education policy based on citizen feedback, which is available at www.azed.gov/beheardAZ.

Access to the new dyslexia technical assistance handbook to support families and teachers, as well as additional literacy resources, can be found at www.azed.gov/dyslexia.

Continued Budget Uncertainty Causes Another IT Staffer to Exit

(Phoenix, Ariz., March 31, 2017) – The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) announced Friday the departure of yet another experienced Information Technology employee. The employee is the latest in a series of exits from an award-winning IT team that have all cited “job uncertainty” as their reason for accepting positions elsewhere.

In the Arizona House of Representatives’ initial draft budget framework released this week, ADE was allocated a one-time funding of $7.3 million. That amount would provide resources desperately needed for the maintenance and basic operations of the Department’s data system, but it would still not allow ADE to finish developing its student data system; begin development on its payment system that was created in 1999; fund any new initiatives passed during this legislative session; pursue school-level funding initiatives; or provide reassurance of employment for ADE’s IT staff.

Additionally, the lack of any ongoing maintenance funding would continue to create instability for data system support in future years. ADE’s initial request for IT funding was $17.6 million for FY18, which included $10.1 million in maintenance and $7.6 million for development.

The most recent employee to leave the organization was the only staff member responsible for project-level financial reporting on AELAS, which is the overarching collection of systems that calculate school payments. After graduating from the Thunderbird School of Global Management with an MBA, this full-time employee worked on strategic financial management of IT systems for three years, focusing on reporting and forecasting for AELAS and the 150-plus IT systems that schools utilize daily.

“It is very telling that we lost an employee whose primary focus was to work on the IT budget,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “It is always disappointing to lose good people, but it is even more discouraging when all of this could have been prevented by having funds annually allocated to our IT maintenance budget, just like many other major state agencies do. I hope the Legislature can provide us as soon as possible with some clear assurances that we will be able to keep our staff and that schools will be paid without any issues both this year and in the future.”

Arizona has seen unprecedented job growth in IT over the past decade, rated second among all states in that category. In June of 2016, Forbes magazine even named the Phoenix metro area as the city “winning the battle for IT jobs.”

“Since Arizona has such a red-hot IT market, I’m afraid that we will lose more valuable employees to other external offers,” the Superintendent said. “If I had a family to support and no guarantee of a job on July 1, I would start looking too.”

Superintendent Meets With Congress on Education

(Phoenix, Ariz., March 27, 2017) – Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas met with members of Arizona’s congressional delegation, as well as national education leaders in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, at the Council of Chief State School Officers legislative conference last week in Washington, D.C.

Superintendent Douglas first met with U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Va.), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, to talk about the federal government’s role in education and express her support for Foxx’s efforts to ensure that its influence is limited. The Superintendent then attended meetings in the offices of representatives and senators from her home state, including Reps. Andy Biggs, Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Tom O’Halleran, David Schweikert, as well as with Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.

Rep. O’Halleran and his staff expressed interest in supporting rural schools and advocating for impact aid to schools on Indian reservations, while learning from the Superintendent that the Zip Code Project and Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative would both prove beneficial for his district. Representative Schweikert’s office was also eager to hear about the broadband initiative, joining Representative Franks’ office in its request for more support for Indian education.

Rep. Biggs shared his proposal to create additional flexibility for federal Title I funds and asked for additional details about the Common Core replacement that took place in December. His office was also interested in the submission of Arizona’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan and the ongoing need for support of Native American students.

Rep. Gosar was excited to hear about the impact that broadband connectivity could have on his district, while also discussing how to better support the Office of Indian Education, the Zip Code Project and pilot programs to promote college and career readiness.

“It is always an honor to meet with elected representatives and senators that are doing their part to ensure that Arizona is the best state in the nation,” Superintendent Douglas said. “After our meetings, I am confident that they will support our great state in addressing the needs of all of our students.”