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Published: July 10th, 2018

ADE’s Grants Process Begins Earlier Than Ever

The Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) new grants process is allowing eligible schools to draw down grant monies beginning in July. This new process was created to ensure that schools can receive their grant allocations before the beginning of the school year, which is not only months earlier than in the past, but also allows schools to have access to these funds before classes begin.

“We have been working over the past year to overhaul and streamline the Department’s internal grants management practices,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “The goal was to allocate grant money to schools as soon as possible. The heavy lifting and hard work performed by my finance, grants and program area staff is paying off, allowing schools to have access to funds months earlier than they have in the past.”

ADE opened grant applications for the upcoming year on March 1, 2018, marking the earliest time ever that Arizona schools could apply for grants. The flood of early applications demonstrated how popular the new practice is with traditional districts and charters. In fact, 47 percent of all expected grant requests have been approved. Charters and districts can request draw downs on these approved grant allocations, which will soon be followed by the remaining grant approvals.

“It was simply unacceptable to have schools waiting until after the school year had started to receive grant funds,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Schools need to know the extent of their funding before the school year has started so they can budget their finances accordingly. Schools already have enough financial concerns on their plate without external factors complicating their processes any further.”

Under the leadership of Superintendent Douglas, ADE has been working diligently to ease any procedural burdens on Arizona’s public schools. Opening the grant funding applications earlier in the year is not only help getting grant money to schools earlier, but it is also streamlining the application process, creating a consistent schedule for opening funding applications, as well as awarding grant funds. This provides districts and charters with more proactive planning opportunities for their budgetary needs.

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Published: December 7th, 2017

Superintendent Douglas Announces English Learner Teacher of the Year

At the Office of English Language Acquisition Services (OELAS) Conference awards banquet last night, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced that the 2017 Arizona English Learner (EL) Teacher of the Year is Kelly Neckels of Amberlea Elementary School in the Pendergast Elementary School District in Phoenix.

“It is an honor to recognize such an outstanding and beloved teacher as Kelly Neckels,” said Superintendent Douglas. “The energy and excitement at the banquet when her name was announced made it very clear how truly deserving she is of the award. Her district’s administration at could not say enough about her devotion towards her craft and her students.”

Neckels was honored at Wednesday night’s OELAS awards banquet at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson. The OELAS Conference, which was entitled “Opening Doors through Language,” also awarded four standout students with prizes for being recognized as English Learner Student Success Stories.

The process for choosing the 2017 Arizona EL Teacher of the Year began with the call for nominations in May 2017. Judging took place in October with a panel of peers, facilitated by OELAS, ultimately choosing the honoree.

On October 27, 2017, Superintendent Douglas and officials from OELAS made a surprise visit to Amberlea Elementary to inform Neckels that she had been selected as the 2017 Arizona EL Teacher of the Year.

When asked to describe her educational philosophy as is relates to teaching EL students, Neckels responded, “My educational philosophy, as it relates to teaching EL students, is to cultivate an environment where my students feel a sense of security to take risks in their learning, to push themselves even further than their academic comfort level and to develop a love and passion for learning all while developing their proficiency in the English language. I also believe that showing my students how much I care about them as people, as well as learners, encourages them to develop positive relationships among each other. When my students feel secure, encouraged and loved, they support each other in their journey to becoming proficient in the English language.”

“I truly feel that every single day that I walk away from teaching my EL students I feel rewarded!” Neckels stated. “I get an overwhelming sense of excitement and pride when I hear my students use complete sentences with their peers or on their own, struggle with a difficult concept but do not give up until they succeed, face their fear of speaking in front of the class, explain how they got their answer on a math problem, or encourage each other to not be afraid to try.”

Neckels graduated with honors from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and earned her Master’s degree in Education from Northern Arizona University. Neckels has been a teacher at Amberlea for the past 11 years, and is currently a third grade Structured English Immersion teacher. She has taught EL students for the past 18 years.

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Published: June 23rd, 2017

Superintendent Douglas Announces New Director of Communications

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is pleased to announce Dan Godzich as the new Director of Communications for the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). Godzich has more than two decades of professional communications experience. Dan joins ADE after serving as the Majority Leader & Education Policy Advisor at the Arizona House of Representatives.

“I am excited to welcome Dan to my team and work with him on communications for all of the exciting initiatives we have at ADE,” said Superintendent Douglas. “In addition to his time in Arizona, his experience in Washington D.C. with media and policy will no doubt serve ADE well.”

Godzich will replace Sally Stewart, who began her tenure as ADE’s Public Information Officer in 2014 before being promoted to Director of Communications. The Superintendent wishes Ms. Stewart, who has decided to pursue other professional opportunities, the best of luck in her future endeavors.

At the Arizona House of Representatives, Godzich helped formulate and implement the majority agenda, create a $3.5 billion education finance reform package and negotiate $ 9.6 billion state budget. Prior to working at the House, Godzich worked on campaigns on behalf of the Republican National Committee, served as an Executive Vice President for an international boarding school and created online and social media content for various political and humanitarian organizations. Godzich also served on the White House staff of George H.W. Bush.

A graduate of Hunter College in New York, Godzich is a travel adventurer and space enthusiast, as well as a proud New York Giants fan. His family includes his wife, Lisa, and his two children, Jacob and Jessica.

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Published: June 23rd, 2017

ADE IT Wins Gold at 2017 IT World Awards

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) announced today that the Network Products Guide, Information Technology’s (IT’s) leading research and advisory guide, has named the Arizona Education Data Standards (AzEDS) the Gold Award Winner in the 12th Annual 2017 IT World Awards® in the category of Best IT Products and Services for Education. The awards from the Network Products Guide, which is comprised of industry and peer recognition, host the world’s premier IT awards ceremony for honoring achievement in all facets of the IT industry. Award recipients from throughout the world will be honored during the 2017 SV US Red Carpet Awards Ceremony and Dinner in San Francisco on Monday, June 26, 2017.

“It’s an honor to be named a Gold Award Winner by the esteemed IT World Awards®,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “This recognition further illustrates how resourceful our ADE IT department has been in developing the state’s student data system. Our IT staff deserves the utmost support as they continue to develop and maintain award-winning products and services designed to support the schools and children of Arizona.”

The main objective in creating the AzEDS system was for data to drive instructional decisions by providing real-time feedback to educators. The development of AzEDS not only included the implementation of innovative technology, but it incorporated a complete business process reengineering that no other state has been able to duplicate.

“This project’s success is proof that ADE has created a new business model for education,” stated ADE Chief Information Officer Satish Pattisapu. “We have also delivered on our promises to produce near real-time data, simplify reporting and improve data accuracy. This will not only allow Arizona to save money, but it will allow teachers and administrators to focus on how data can help improve student achievement, instead of worrying about whether or not it is accurate.”

The AzEDS system has standardized the collecting, storing and managing of data, allowing schools to know their state aid payments almost instantaneously, as opposed to months later. It is estimated that AzEDS will save the state nearly $40 million annually in more accurate student counts.

To learn more about AzEDS and its benefits to Arizona, please visit www.azed.gov/aelas/azeds/.

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Published: May 18th, 2017

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.

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Published: May 18th, 2017

ADE to Partner With Center for Student Achievement to Assist Rural School Teachers

(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/.

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Published: May 18th, 2017

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.

END

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Published: May 5th, 2017

“The Best Way to Appreciate Teachers Is to Pay Them”

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas will kick off “Teacher Appreciation Week,” beginning on Monday, May 8, by visiting five different schools in the greater metro Phoenix area. Superintendent Douglas will not only visit with teachers in their classrooms, but will take tours of the schools, as well as deliver the morning announcements over the public address system.

Across the country next week, thousands of communities also will honor their teachers and acknowledge the critical role they play in making sure every student receives a quality education. “There is no more important job than being a teacher,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Being able to go around the state and meet so many of our state’s teachers is by far my favorite part of being Superintendent. I’m looking forward to visiting these schools and gathering more ideas on how I can best represent teachers at the state level.”

In recognition of this important week, Superintendent Douglas will be attending these five schools: May 8 – Sahuaro Ranch Elementary, Peoria Unified School District May 9 – Apollo High School, Glendale Union High School District May 10 – Heard Elementary School, Phoenix Elementary School District May 11 – Glenn L. Downs Elementary School, Cartwright School District May 11 – Marc Atkinson Middle School, Cartwright School District

“Teacher Appreciation Week” comes on the heels of Superintendent Douglas’ recent announcement to combat the teacher shortage crisis and increase teacher salaries by extending and expanding Prop 301. Her proposal would provide a permanent revenue stream for teacher raises, which would include an immediate $5,000 a year pay increase to the average Arizona teacher.

“Providing a substantial teacher salary raise is the best way to show our teachers that we value their tireless effort in shaping and developing the lives of our Arizona youth,” Douglas said. “In my three tours across the entire state, I have overwhelmingly heard from the people of Arizona that we need to pay our teachers more. By bringing this proposal forward and hopefully to the ballot, I hope to honor both the wishes of Arizona citizens, as well the talented educators that teach our beloved children every day.”

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Published: April 29th, 2017

Zip Code Project Launches in Phoenix Communities

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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