Arizona Department of Education

Published: Published: January 2nd, 2018

Superintendent Douglas Appoints New Designee to School Facilities Board

Current School Facilities Administrator with Three Decades of Building Construction and Facility Management Experience

(Phoenix, Ariz., Jan 2, 2018) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today appointed Gregory J. Gilliam as her designee to the Arizona School Facilities Board.

“I am proud to appoint Mr. Gilliam as my designee,” Superintendent Douglas said. “As a current Director of Maintenance and Operations at a school district, he will be bringing a frontline perspective to School Facility Board decisions. I look forward to having him as my eyes and ears on the Board.”

“It is my honor to serve as Superintendent Douglas’s designee to the board,” said Mr. Gilliam. “I am excited to bring first-hand knowledge of District needs for the Board’s consideration.”

Gregory Gilliam has served as the Director of Maintenance and Operations of the Glendale Elementary School District for the last four years.

Prior to that Mr. Gilliam served in various facilities management capacities for the City of Phoenix, including Aviation Superintendent and Facilities Management and Alarm Service Superintendent. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Management from Grand Canyon University, is a certified Journeyman Electrician (IBEW Local 640) and has accreditations from the American Association of Airport Executives, the United States Green Building Council, and the Association of Energy Engineers.

Before working for the City of Phoenix he worked in residential and commercial contracting. Mr. Gilliam is a US Army veteran who served in the famed 82nd ABN Infantry out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

The Arizona School Facilities Board is charged with administering three capital funds; Building Renewal, Deficiencies Renewal and New School Facilities. The Board consists of nine members, appointed by the Governor, along with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Superintendent Douglas’s appointment of Mr. Gilliam as her designee is part of her ongoing commitment to assure that Arizona School Facilities are adequately funded.

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Published: Published: December 29th, 2017

Arizona Superintendent Disagrees with Judge’s Ruling Issues Statement on Decision in Tucson Ethnic Studies Case

(Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 29, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas issued the following statement today regarding Judge Tashima’s ruling in the case regarding Arizona state law 15-112:

“I am disappointed with the Judge’s ruling in this case. I am looking forward to a scheduled meeting with Legislative leadership next week. My first item on the agenda, will be to see if we can find a legislative remedy to the judge’s ruling,” said Superintendent Douglas.

“I am supportive of teaching history and cultural studies,” added Douglas, “but I don’t understand why the Judge felt he needed to strike down the entire law. The provisions that prevent tax payer dollars being used for classes that promote the overthrow of the United States Government or promote resentment towards a race or class of people, just sound like common sense to me. Those should stay.”

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Published: Published: December 19th, 2017

Top 5 Ways Arizona’s K-12 Standards Are Different than Common Core

Top Five List Arizona Standards vs. Common Core

Common Core

  1. Common Core Standards are owned and copyrighted by an organization in Washington, DC and cannot be changed without their permission.
  2. Common Core had lists of recommended reading materials, some of which were questionable in their age appropriateness.
  3. Common Core did not emphasize students learning about time and money in the early grades.
  4. Common Core did not have our students learn to read and write cursive.
  5. Common Core not only asked math students to get a certain answer, but said they had to show that they got the answer in the Common Core way.

Arizona Standards

  1. Arizona Standards are owned by Arizona and can only be changed by Arizona. They were created with input from more than 200 Arizona educators and thousands of comments from the parents and people of Arizona.
  2. Arizona Standards allow school districts and charters to select their own curriculum and resources.
  3. Arizona Mathematics Standards have students learning about time and money in 1st through 4th grades.
  4. Arizona now requires students to learn cursive by 5th grade. Arizona is the only state with standards that lead to writing cursive.
  5. Arizona students and teachers can now use different methods to get the correct math answer.
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Published: 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: Published: October 13th, 2017

ADE Correcting Title I Funds Allocation Process

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that local education agencies (LEAs) will be notified of their Title I allocations next week due to efforts taken by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).

The State Auditor General and the United States Department of Education (ED) identified several audit findings with respect to Title I that first occurred under the previous administration in FY2013-14. ADE confirmed these findings, uncovering additional issues related to the Title I allocation process.

ADE staff made LEAs aware of an issue with Title I entitlements as early as the Committee of Practitioners and Spring Coordinators meetings in April 2017. In response to the findings, ADE has established an action committee to solve the issue for this year and replaced the parties responsible for the misallocation of Title I funds. ADE additionally procured Afton Partners Inc., a third-party, independent fiscal consulting firm to analyze and validate the processes, policies and procedures used to calculate the allocations. These processes have been reviewed and validated by staff at ED.

Also, ADE’s policy manual that includes proper procedures and approval authorities are being enhanced, while specialized training of certain Title I staff and cross-training backup personnel is being developed. ADE has been working to minimize the impact to Title I LEAs as these findings are resolved, to ensure LEAs are not adversely impacted.

“I am proud of my staff for working diligently to uncover and solve these issues,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Fortunately, these findings have not impacted our statewide Title I appropriation for Arizona from the federal government. There is nothing more important than ensuring our most socio-economically disadvantaged students are accurately provided the resources they need to thrive.”

Although all money was spent on Title I services, the misallocation may result in how future funds are allocated. ADE will continue to work in conjunction with ED to ensure all individual LEAs accurately receive the funds in which they are entitled.

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Published: Published: September 29th, 2017

Five Arizona Schools Being Honored as 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools

(Phoenix, Ariz., September 29, 2017) — Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced today which Arizona schools are being honored as a National Blue Ribbon School. “I am proud of our Arizona schools and am glad there is an award to honor their hard work and dedication to the students and the community. These schools are putting the children first by creating safe and welcoming places where they can learn and be challenged.”

In Arizona, five schools made the grade by meeting the U.S. Department of Education’s accountability requirements:

  • Acacia Elementary School – Vail, Arizona
  • 5 School Logos including US Department of Education logo

  • Arizona College Preparatory – Oakland Campus Chandler, Arizona
  • Franklin at Brimhall Elementary School – Mesa, Arizona
  • Palm Valley Elementary School – Goodyear, Arizona
  • Seton Catholic Preparatory High School – Chandler, Arizona
  • The U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recognized 342 schools nationwide as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the honorees. “You are visionaries, innovators and leaders.”

    These schools are being recognized for their performance in two categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.
  • Now in its 35th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition to more than 8,500 schools. On November 6-7, these schools will be honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Secretary and the Department of Education.

    Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year, but only the top schools make the grade to be honored as a National Blue Ribbon School. For more information about this national award, please visit or the national website.


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    Published: Published: September 20th, 2017

    Superintendent Douglas Backs Attorney General’s Lawsuit Against ABOR for Unconstitutional Tuition Hikes

    Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced her support of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) for dramatically increasing the price of base tuition and mandatory fees at the state’s public universities. Superintendent Douglas concurs with Attorney General Brnovich and his assertion that the 300-plus-percent tuition hikes are unconstitutional.

    “The Arizona Constitution clearly states that ‘the university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible,’” Superintendent Douglas stated. “That is plainly not the case in our state right now. We want to set our children up for success when they graduate from college, not be riddled with so much debt that their choices are limited.”

    Superintendent Douglas commends Attorney General Brnovich for pointing out three types of unlawful conduct cited in the filed lawsuit. The Superintendent agrees with the Attorney General that the tuition-setting policy does not comply with the constitutional mandate, part-time or online students are charged significantly more than the actual cost and Arizona risks triggering a federal law that would forfeit the state’s ability to provide discounted in-state tuition to any of its residents.

    As a constitutional member of ABOR, Douglas has called for more dedicated education funding across the board, proposing an extension and expansion of Prop 301 to address teacher salaries and capital repairs of school infrastructures.

    “It is overdue that we have a serious conversation about controlling the cost of a college education in Arizona,” Superintendent Douglas said. “I would be interested in hearing more about ideas such as community colleges offering four-year degrees and reducing the amount of fees students pay. I think it fits within the larger dialogue of ensuring our financial resources are used wisely to ensure the best possible outcome for our children.”

    Please visit the Attorney General’s website to read the complete lawsuit at with any other questions. To learn more about Superintendent Douglas’ plan to extend and expand Prop 301, please visit

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    Published: Published: September 11th, 2017

    Superintendent Douglas Asks Education Community to Remember 9/11

    Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas asked that all Arizona schools take a moment to remember those lost in the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

    The former New Jersey resident hopes that the schools honor all of the Americans lost in the attacks 16 years ago to the day. The four coordinated attacks on September 11, 2001 took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, injured over 6,000 others and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage, including the destruction of part of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.

    “I hope that all Arizonans can take a moment of silence at some point today to remember the tragic events of 9/11,” Superintendent Douglas said. “I’d also like to take a moment to recognize all of those that serve our country and work every day to keep us all safe. My thoughts and prayers are with them, as well as with everyone who lost a family member or someone special on that day.”

    Superintendent Douglas will conduct a moment of silence at her “We Are Listening Tour” event tonight at the West Sedona Elementary School in Sedona from 6-8. The event is free to attend and an opportunity for all Arizonans to provide feedback about education first-hand to Superintendent Douglas.

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