The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) recently released final combined performance results from the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 administrations of the AzMERIT statewide assessment. An Excel file containing the results and additional details about the assessments has been posted at www.azed.gov/accountability-research/data/.
“I am very proud of the hard work my Assessment and Accountability teams have done to release these scores earlier than ever,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “Although most know that I think the AzMERIT test has a long way to go to become the most effective tool of student assessment in our state, I am pleased to announce that our students have improved in 26 of the 30 grade-level and test categories. While we still have much work to do, I congratulate all of our educators and students for widespread gains across the board.”
The results include the total percentage of Arizona public school students who passed the assessments and the percentage at each performance level. In addition to the statewide results, proficiency rates are available for schools, districts/charter holders and counties. Breakdowns by grade level, subgroup (e.g., students with disabilities, English language learners, economically disadvantaged students) and ethnicity are also provided.
Arizona public school students in third grade through high school take AzMERIT. Students in grades 3 through 8 take an assessment in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics at their grade level. Students taking high school level English and math take End-of-Course assessments that test their proficiency in those subjects.
Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) results were not included in the most recent release of data because this assessment needed to conduct a standards validation, which is why ADE has communicated with schools and the Arizona State Board of Education that there would be a delay in reporting those results this year. Once that process is complete, those results will be posted on ADE’s website.
For more information on AzMERIT, please visit https://www.azed.gov/assessment//azmerit/.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today proudly announced that one quarter of educator certification renewals granted so far this year have been submitted online.
“I am very proud of both our Certification and IT departments for creating the AzEDCert Educator Portal,” Superintendent Douglas said. “This technology means that hardworking certified teachers and administrators no longer need to make the inconvenient trek to our office in Phoenix to renew their certifications. We need to do everything we can to ease the administrative burden we put on our educators, which is why I am so very proud of both the portal and how we have streamlined other certification processes.”
Educator certification processing times for renewals have been cut in half this year due to new technology and improved administrative processes. Teachers who have a signed letter of intent from a traditional district or charter school authenticating their employment typically have their files evaluated within 72 hours, barring any background verification issues.
In addition, if a teacher is applying for a reciprocal certification, an emergency teacher certification or an emergency substitute teacher certification, the teacher will receive immediate certification. The only conditions for immediate approval are that the teacher must apply in person at a certification window in Phoenix, as well as have the appropriate paperwork correctly completed.
While there has been an increase in certification processing efficiency, there has also been a 28 percent increase in certification applications submitted over the previous fiscal year. The greatest increases in certifications have been in secondary education (59 percent), physical education (31 percent), elementary education (21 percent) and arts education (20 percent).
More information about the AzEDCert Educator portal can be found on the Certification Unit’s webpage at http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/.
Urges motorists to be aware of children and school buses
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas welcomes back students, teachers and staff by proclaiming the start of the new school year.
“Once again it is the time of year for new backpacks, sharpened pencils and making new friends,” Superintendent Douglas said. “It is always an exciting time of hope and anticipation when the school year begins. Welcome back to school, Arizona!”
Since over the next few weeks most Arizona schools will begin the new school year, Superintendent Douglas urges motorists to put safety first on our state’s roads.
“We are back to having school buses on our roads, students walking in our crosswalks, as well as riding on their bicycles,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Let’s remind ourselves to be vigilant in our driving with our children back in school. Please be extra alert and abide by the speed limits in the school zones.
“Test scores are rising, teachers are getting raises and schools are receiving their federal grant funds sooner than ever. We are poised to have the best Arizona school year ever, so let’s all work together to achieve that goal.”
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.
School, Law Enforcement and Health Officials Work Together
On Thursday, June 14th, the Arizona Department of Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, and the Arizona Department of Health Services coordinated an active shooter training event for Arizona school officials.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas opened the event. “We have all seen the devastating impact to students, parents, schools and communities that have experienced school shooter tragedies. Thankfully, we have not had a mass school shooting in Arizona. We must still remain vigilant,” said Douglas. “I am encouraged that so many of our school, law enforcement and healthcare leaders from across our state came together to be better prepared, and hopefully even find ways to prevent such an event.”
More than one hundred and fifty participants from across the state attended including, School Superintendents, Police Chiefs, Firefighters, Psychologists, Tribal Leaders, Public Health and Hospital staff and the Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Colonel Frank Milstead. The event included a two-hour superintendent-level-training focused on active shooter and mass casualty events, followed by law enforcement current affairs briefing, behavioral health aspects of school shootings, and an open discussion.
More than 1,100 Sites Across the State Approved
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, noted that the Summer Food Services Program (SFSP) has begun.
“Many low-income families depend on the free and reduced meals that are served during the school year,” said Superintendent Douglas. “No child in Arizona should suffer from food insecurity just because school is out of session. That’s why the Summer Food Services Program is so important.”
So far, one thousand and fifty-five (1,155) SFSP sites have been approved in the State of Arizona. This is an increase over last year’s total of one thousand and seventy-three (1,073). As with every summer, additional SFSP sites are added through the summer. Some of the sites are already opened, others will open soon. The sites will remain open through the first week in August.
Last year, during the summer of 2017, more than 3.1 Million meals were served at SFSP sites in Arizona. With the increase in sites, it is anticipated that even more meals will be served. The majority of sites serve breakfast and lunch. Some also serve dinner and/or snacks.
To find a Summer Food Program site near you and find out their address, times of operation and which meals are served, please follow this link to the interactive map: www.azhealthzone.org/summerfood/
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas proudly announced an agreement between the Governor Doug Ducey’s Office of Education and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to provide partial fee subsidies for low-income students accessing Advanced Placement (AP) tests, International Baccalaureate (IB) exams and Cambridge International Examinations in the spring of 2018.
“I am grateful to Governor Ducey and the Governor’s Office of Education for providing us with additional funding to help us support these outstanding and ambitious students,” Superintendent Douglas said. “I never want to see students struggle to achieve their potential because they cannot afford to take the exams for courses in which they excel. This agreement provides students the opportunity to challenge themselves academically and earn college credit, without burdening themselves or their families financially.”
The interagency agreement was inspired by the Governor’s Achieve60AZ postsecondary attainment goal, which strives to ensure that 60 percent of working adults in Arizona have a certificate or college degree by 2030. Since students exposed to higher learning opportunities such as advanced placement classes, dual enrollment and early college experiences are more likely to pursue a postsecondary education, this initiative intends to increase the number of college graduates, as well as create a more diverse, knowledgeable and innovative workforce in Arizona.
Schools began learning how to access these resources to support their students from ADE in March. For more information on the grant, please visit www.azed.gov/advanced-placement/.
The United States Department of Defense has informed the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) that it is one of the states honored as a 2018 recipient of the Troops to Teachers Grant award. The mission of the Troops to Teachers Program is to assist current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces in beginning a new career as a public school teacher.
“I could not be any more delighted that the state of Arizona is a recipient of this prestigious grant,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “I have enormous admiration and respect for our military personnel, so I hope this grant will encourage more military members to make the transition from one honorable professional to another. Military service members have accumulated a number of life skills that would prove invaluable in the classroom.”
The grant will provide ADE with a dedicated staff position and overhead for the Troops to Teachers Program over the next five years, totaling $735,513.00. Former ADE Legislative Liaison and current Arizona National Guard member Nick LeFevre wrote the grant application, while ADE Deputy Associate Superintendent of Educator Excellence Keith Snyder will manage the program out of the Certification Unit.
Snyder spent 11 years as an active member of the U.S. Army, serving in Fort Huachuca, Fort Hood, Germany and Kuwait. After being honorably discharged from the military, Snyder transitioned into becoming a public school teacher and administrator, serving as an example of the type of candidate this program intends to attract.
“Our hope is that this grant will provide another avenue for combating our current teacher shortage in Arizona,” Snyder said. “Former military members offer a unique set of skills that are instrumental for teachers to possess. Teamwork, adaptability, time management, learning to prioritize tasks and developing an environment of respect are all abilities that are developed in the military, but would also be tremendously utilized by a teacher.”
Congress enacted the Troops to Teachers Program in 1993, placing the initiative underneath the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) of the U.S. Department of Defense. The goal of the program is to reach 500 service members by visiting each active duty military base at least once per quarter.
To learn more about becoming a teacher in Arizona, please visit http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/.
Following the decision made yesterday evening by teachers to strike next Thursday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has implored teachers not to walk out of their classrooms if their salary demands are not met by that time.
“I have long been a vocal proponent of providing teachers with significant pay raises,” Superintendent Douglas said. “No one has more respect for the jobs that teachers do, which is why I proposed a viable, meaningful increase in their salaries last year, as well as sustainable funding specifically for them and school facilities.
“But if the teachers do not give the leadership at the Capitol the time to implement their salary increase, I’m afraid that striking will only hurt students and parents, while simultaneously setting back their own cause. I know that if we put the students first, we will be able to resolve all of our issues, and that is the role the Arizona Department of Education and I plan on playing until this issue is resolved.”
In preparation of a potential walk out on Thursday, the Department will issue guidance in the coming days from program areas such as School Finance, Health and Nutrition and Assessment. The Department is already working with schools that are deciding to remain open to provide free and reduced meals, as well as provide direction regarding the legal amount of annual instructional hours necessary for schools that close.
“Since my first priority is the children,” Superintendent Douglas continued, “in the unfortunate event that the teachers proceed to strike on Thursday, I’m calling on the communities, businesses and faith-based organizations near the schools that decide to close to please make contingencies on behalf the students that do not have anywhere else to go, especially the children of single parents. It’s an absolute shame that it has come to this, but now that we are all in this situation, I hope that the teachers and Capitol leadership can rebuild trust and come together to resolve this matter as quickly as possible for the sake of our students.”
Superintendent Douglas will also present more guidance and provide an update at the upcoming State Board of Education meeting on Monday regarding a potential walkout.