Press Releases


July 18th, 2017

Arizona Department of Education Launches New Website Theme

Today the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) launched a new website theme. The site aims to streamline communications between ADE, schools and education professionals, and the public. In addition, the new style provides a user-friendly look including the addition of a mobile layout.

The new website theme is part of a two-year initiative by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. During that time a federal mandate to bring the site into accessibility compliance for the disabled was issued.

“When I took office,” said Superintendent Douglas, “it was important to me that we have clear communications with the public, the people we serve. To do that effectively, I felt it was critical to update our outdated website, our first source of information. While working to that end we ensured all Arizonans receive that information. That we were thinking ahead of the federal mandate was a happy coincidence.”

ADE Information Technology (IT) was recently awarded with a Gold Award in the category of Best IT Products and Services for Education at the 2017 IT World Awards from Network Products Guide, Information Technology’s leading research and advisory guide. The awards from the Network Products Guide, which are comprised of industry and peer recognition, honor achievement in all facets of the IT industry at the world’s premier IT awards ceremony.

ADE IT staff handled every aspect of the website development and transition, meeting several requests by ADE programs areas in anticipation of local education agencies (LEAs) needs. “We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented and innovative IT staff,” said Douglas. “They continue to show how resourceful our ADE IT department is in guaranteeing we have the best products to serve our students, our schools, and the people of Arizona.”

While the majority of ADE’s website is transitioned to the new theme, a few program areas are still making the transition. The department anticipates the full transition of the website soon. ADE invites the public to visit www.azed.gov. Feedback is welcome at www.azed.gov/beheardaz/feedback/.

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July 17th, 2017

Superintendent Douglas Announces Fastest Ever Annual Rollover

The Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) IT division announced that it has reached yet another milestone today. The award-winning Arizona Education Data Standards system (AzEDS), which has become the industry model for collecting, storing and managing education data, has executed the most efficient annual rollover in the state’s history.

AzEDS currently serves 1.1 million students throughout the state, processing more than $5 billion in state aid to more than 2,575 public and charter schools. This shift has allowed local education agencies (LEAs) to know their estimated state aid payments on a daily basis, as opposed to months later.

“I have been extremely impressed with AzEDS since our district began working with it last year,” Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Chandler Unified School District Lana Berry stated. “Since the majority of our funding comes from this system’s reports, the accuracy of the numbers are really critical to our school district getting accurately paid.

“Any problems we had were identified quickly, and to be fair, most of those problems were from the old system; not from AzEDS. We need to support AzEDS and ADE because we will be using this funding system for many years to come.”

Not only has ADE’s IT division completed its rollovers to the new fiscal year in a punctual manner, but AzEDS has met legislatively mandated reporting deadlines, granted schools unseen access to their system at the beginning of the year and offer end-of-year calculations for the first time. Public and charter schools now also follow the same month-to-month payment schedule, which allows schools to budget with more accuracy, saving the state millions of dollars annually.

“We really appreciate ADE because this transition has been a positive change for Chandler and for all Arizona schools,” Berry said. “Since we have one of the largest school districts in Arizona with 45,000 students, as well as the staff and technical personnel to provide good feedback, we made for an ideal testing group and partner for ADE. (Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction) Diane Douglas, (ADE Chief of Staff) Michael Bradley, the technology staff and everyone else at ADE have been very supportive and committed to find solutions to any problems since day one.”

In order to create a best-in-class student data system and meet the legislative demands on the state’s education system, ADE IT scaled to a near instantaneous processing speed and adjusted the capacity of the system to meet the demand of 6-9 million transactions per day. By providing this real-time visual feedback to educators, ADE is accomplishing its main objective, which is to assist educators in using data to drive instructional decisions in the classroom.

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July 14th, 2017

Superintendent Douglas Announces New ESA Director

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced the hiring of Lindsay Hudson as the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) new Director of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. Hudson has spent the majority of her professional career working in finance for Fortune 500 companies, joining the Department after most recently serving as an Operations Project Manager for Bank of America.

“I am excited to work with Lindsay to ensure that the Department manages this program as efficiently as possible,” said Superintendent Douglas. “With the amount of attention the program received this past legislative session, ADE is expecting the number of applications to increase as more eligibility categories are opened up. I extend a warm welcome to Lindsay, whose background and experience will prove to be invaluable assets to the program as it continues to expand.”

At Bank of America, Hudson generated $338 million in customer assistance funds, while also managing database implementation for the Hardest Hit Fund and Emergency Homeowner Loan programs. Before her tenure at Bank of America, Hudson was responsible for financial reporting, revenue analysis and forecasting for Honeywell Corporate and Honeywell Aerospace.

The announcement of a new ESA Director comes on the heels of an increased staffing effort by ADE designed to bolster the program’s management and oversight and deliver excellent service to parents and students. In addition to Hudson, ESA is in the process of hiring several new program specialists to bring its total number of full-time employees to 11.

More information on the ESA program, including student eligibility details, is available at www.azed.gov/esa.

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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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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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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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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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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.

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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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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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