Press Releases

Published: October 4th, 2019

Statement on School Safety Program Grant Applications

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released the following statement on the abundance of School Safety Program grant applications:

“One of the greatest wins of the 2019 legislative session was the expansion of Arizona’s School Safety Program, which allocated $20 million of new funding for school counselors, social workers, and school resource officers. After closing the grant application, our department has spent this past week conducting an initial review of the 896 applications submitted by 284 school districts and charter school organizations from across the state. Position requests totaled over 1,100, with requests for school counselors comprising roughly 40 percent of the total requests, 34 percent were for a school-based social worker and about 26 percent were for a school resource officer. Many applicants requested a combination of positions, including some part-time positions.

“While it will take some time to get a complete picture of what schools have requested, our initial analysis shows that the demand will far exceed the $20 million in appropriated funds. School safety and the social wellness of our students is a top priority for my administration, and I recognize the urgent need for additional funds to meet the demand of school communities. I look forward to a continuing dialogue with the Governor’s office and the Legislature to address the clear and immediate need for more funding for this program. I urge our state leaders to join my call to action to meet the safety needs of our schools without delay.”

Posted in Press Releases |
Published: September 26th, 2019

Five Arizona Schools Earn Blue Ribbon Recognition

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today proudly announced five Arizona schools have been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education (US ED). The five schools receiving this honor are Alhambra Traditional School in Phoenix, Arizona College Prep Erie Campus in Chandler, Ash Fork Elementary School in Ash Fork, Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary School in Phoenix and the Montessori Education Centre Charter School in Mesa. These schools are among the 312 public and 50 non-public schools that will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 14-15.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment for these five schools,” Superintendent Hoffman said. “A commitment to high academic standards and a focus on closing achievement gaps is vital to the success of all students. I want to congratulate the administrators, educators, staff, and students for the hard work that led to this distinguished honor.”

US ED recognized the 362 schools across the nation for their overall academic performance or for their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

For photographs and brief descriptions of the 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools, please visit


Posted in News, Press Releases |
Published: September 24th, 2019

Department of Education and AHCCCS Announce Partnership

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) today announced a partnership to provide social-emotional professional development trainings to Arizona teachers. The PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG) is a powerful evidence-based practice, consisting of proven instructional and behavioral health strategies used daily by teachers and students in the classroom. This universal preventive approach not only improves classroom behavior and educational outcomes but also provides a lifetime of benefits for every child by improving self-regulation and co-regulation with peers. Children, their families, teachers, and society benefit for decades as a result. The materials and trainings will be offered to school districts throughout the state and will be paid for using federal opioid prevention funds. Outreach to school districts has begun through Arizona’s County School Superintendents and the Arizona Charter School Association.

“Addressing the social-emotional needs of our students is a top priority for my administration,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “A comprehensive approach to school safety must include a focus on the mental health of all of our students, including those in early grades. The skills provided to teachers through these trainings will have an enormous impact on our state well into the future. I’m excited to work with AHCCCS and PAX to provide this opportunity to our schools, teachers, and students.”

“In addition to treatment and recovery services, Arizona is focusing federal opioid response funding on evidence-based prevention techniques in order to change the trajectory for future generations,” said Dr. Sara Salek, AHCCCS Chief Medical Officer. “The PAX Good Behavior Game is one such prevention program that reduces the likelihood of future opioid use. We are pleased to bring this program to Arizona schools and confident it will benefit students, families, teachers, and society as a whole.”

“Tucson, Arizona, is the birthplace of the PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG), with more than 100 published studies in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. More than 40,000 teachers and 1 million children have been protected by PAX since 1999,” said Dr. Dennis Embry, President of the PAXIS Institute. “Our scientific colleagues around the world have proven that PAX GBG improves reading and math scores, reduces virtually every addiction over an individual’s lifetime—including from opiates, tobacco, or alcohol use, reduces suicide, and increases high-school graduation, university entry, and gainful employment.”

Other studies show PAX GBG reduces teacher stress, increases time for teaching and learning and even reduces violent injuries at schools as well as reducing overall crime. Multiple states, now including Arizona, have or are implementing PAX GBG with State Opioid Response funding because PAX GBG is the only elementary school program proven to reduce lifetime opiate use.

School districts interested in learning more should contact [email protected] for information.

To learn more about the research behind PAX GBG visit: or

Posted in Press Releases |
Published: September 12th, 2019

School Safety Task Force Announcement

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the members of the Arizona Department of Education’s School Safety Task Force. The task force was created in partnership with March for Our Lives AZ after attempts to create such a task force failed at the Legislature during the last legislative session. “I’m honored to partner with March for Our Lives AZ, as well as our other task force members, to develop a comprehensive, research-based approach to school safety,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “The Department has spent this summer in preparation and planning mode, as well as identifying members to serve on the task force — now we’re ready to get to work.”

The task force will hold its first meeting on Monday, September 16 at the Department of Education. The task force will meet monthly, with a goal of completing its work in one year.

Largely modeled after HB2597, introduced by Representative Daniel Hernandez (LD-2), the task force will focus on the following objectives:

  • Identify a unifying, research-based approach to school safety
  • Create a model school safety plan for use by schools and districts
  • Develop a list or clearinghouse of school safety resources
  • Research the value and impact of an anonymous school safety tip line, as well as additional evidence-based, best practices
  • Create an outline of potential legislative proposals to address school safety

The task force is made up of students, school administrators, community members, advocacy groups, and law enforcement representatives. Arizona Department of Education staffers will support the work of the task force.

Task Force Members and Organizations:

  • March for Our Lives AZ
  • Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone
  • Andrew Chavez, Carl Hayden High School
  • Dr. Ember Conley, Mesa Public Schools
  • Janelle Wood, Black Mothers Forum
  • Arcy Cornidez, National Alliance on Mental Illness/Southern AZ Chapter
  • Stephen Leonard, Washington High School/Glendale Union High School District
  • Carol Landauer, Mental Health Coalition of Verde Valley
  • Chris Kotterman, Arizona School Boards Association
  • David Martinez III, Vitalyst Health Foundation
  • Dr. Kris Bosworth, University of Arizona
  • Jessica J. Summers, University of Arizona College of Education
  • Jose Patino, Aliento AZ
  • Julie Kent-Partridge, Washington Elementary School District
  • Kelli Donley Williams, AHCCCS Suicide Prevention Specialist
  • Larry Ross, HOPE College and Career Readiness Academy
  • Linda McCollum, Pima County Attorney’s Office
  • Reid Swan, Flagstaff Unified School District
  • Richard Moore, Academy of Tucson High School
  • Sarah Lindstrom Johnson, Arizona State University Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
  • Skyler Tuholsky-Froke, GLSEN
  • Stephen Dieu, School Resource Officer and Chandler Police Department Officer
  • Tammy Hille, Tucson Unified School District
  • Alyssa Tarkington, Phoenix Union High School District


Posted in Press Releases |
Published: September 12th, 2019

Youth Mental Health First Aid Courses Available

Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, you learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge or is in crisis.

The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD), and eating disorders.

Youth Mental Health First Aid courses are provided at no cost to attendees.


Posted in Press Releases |
Published: August 19th, 2019

Superintendent Hoffman Announces Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Hire

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the hiring of Erica Maxwell as the Arizona Department of Education’s first-ever Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Ms. Maxwell has over 25 years of experience as a certified educator. Her experience includes roles as an administrator in the Chandler Unified School District, instructional coach at Skyline Gila River – a non-profit charter school serving the Gila River Indian Community, an adjunct faculty member at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and faculty associate at Arizona State University. Additionally, she served as a member of the Opportunities for Youth Educational Momentum Action team, supporting at-risk and disconnected youth.

“Erica’s experience and commitment to educational equity made her a stand-out candidate for this position,” Superintendent Hoffman said. “Her career in education is impressive and laudatory, especially her work supporting at-risk youth and diverse student populations. I’m excited to work together to advance our vision of a public education system that delivers the best possible outcome for every student in Arizona.”

“This work embodies the alignment of my life’s passion and purpose at the highest level through community engagement and advocacy for educational equity in Arizona,” Maxwell said. “I’m honored to be selected for this role by Superintendent Hoffman, and I can’t wait to get to started on this important work.”

In addition to her work experience, Maxwell co-founded the Arizona Multicultural Education Conference in 2011. In 2013, she founded a free summer reading club for Chandler students. Club READ (Reading Experiences Appreciating Diversity), facilitated opportunities for youth to identify, read and describe multicultural literature that increased cultural awareness and sensitivity through various activities including, but not limited to; literature circles, spoken word, dramatizations, and attendance at cultural events. She also received the 2015 East Valley NAACP Education Advocacy Award.

Originally from Ohio, Maxwell received her B.S. in Elementary Education and her M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Kent State University.

Posted in Press Releases |
Published: August 15th, 2019

Supt. Hoffman Launches New Student Advisory Council

Fifteen Arizona students will be selected to help shape policy at the state level

Today, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced the formation of Arizona Department of Education’s first statewide Student Advisory Council.

Fifteen students representing grades 5 through 12 will be selected to participate in this advisory council as part of Superintendent Hoffman’s efforts to elevate the voices of students in Arizona.

“When students have the opportunity to use their voice, it inspires and empowers them to be leaders in their educational experience,” said Superintendent Hoffman.  “It’s important for me to hear firsthand from Arizona students about their experiences in school today, and I’m thrilled to convene this Advisory Council and to invite students from across the state to share their perspectives that will help influence education policy at the statewide level.”

Superintendent Hoffman will seek student advisors’ perspectives on a range of topics, from curriculum and testing to school facilities and technology.  Selected students will serve a one-year term starting in October 2019 and ending with the 2019-2020 school year.  Students from grades 5 through 12 that are residents of Arizona are encouraged to apply.  More information regarding eligibility and the application requirements can be found on our website

Posted in Announcements, Press Releases | Tagged , , , |
Published: August 15th, 2019

Apply to the Student Advisory Council

The Student Advisory Council has been created under the administration of Superintendent Kathy Hoffman in her efforts to lift up the voices and perspectives of students and teachers in Arizona. This Student Advisory Council will support the Superintendent’s work to improve education in Arizona with the input of those most affected by the department’s policies.

This year, 15 students from grades 5 through 12 from schools in Arizona will be chosen for this council. The students will serve on the council from October 2019 to July 2020. Student Advisory Council meetings will take place in Phoenix but selected students who live outside the Valley will have the option to attend the meetings via phone or video conference.


Description Members of the Advisory Council will represent their school communities and discuss issues important to students in Arizona. They will advise the State Superintendent and the Department of Education about the department’s policies which have statewide impact.

Qualifications Each applicant must be currently enrolled as a full-time student in Arizona and maintain solid academic standing.

Students from all school backgrounds are eligible to apply, including students who are home schooled.

Application Directions: This form should be completed and submitted before midnight on September 16, 2019. In addition, each applicant needs to email 1-2 letter(s) of recommendation from a teacher, employer, mentor, parent/guardian, or community leader to [email protected]. If you need to submit the letter(s) in a different format, email [email protected]. Applications/letters of recommendation that need to be mailed, should be mailed to Arizona Department of Education Attn: Sophia Mayberry Bin #2 1535 W Jefferson St Phoenix, AZ 85007.

Selection Process: Applications are due Monday, September 16, 2019. After an initial review of applications by ADE Employees and Community Members, applications will be evaluated and qualifying candidates will be asked to participate in an interview between September 23-29, 2019. Applicants will then be notified by Friday, October 4, 2019, if they are invited to serve on the council.


For further information email [email protected].

Important Dates to Save and Advisory Council Meeting Schedule:

Application Process Dates

August 15, 2019: Application Available

September 16, 2019: Applications Due

September 23-29, 2019: Student Interviews Conducted

October 4, 2019: Student Advisors Selected

Council Meeting Schedule 4pm-6pm

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Wednesday, January 29, 2019

Wednesday, April 29, 2019

Posted in Press Releases |
Published: July 22nd, 2019

ADE and DHS Team Up to Support Immunization

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ authored the following letter to school administrators and health office personnel about promoting the importance of immunization.

Dear School Administrator or Health Office Personnel,

We write you today to request your continued support in promoting the importance of up-to-date vaccination within your school community. Arizona vaccine coverage among school-age children in Arizona continues to decline, putting our state at increased risk of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak.

Vaccines are a critical public health tool to keep Arizona children, families, and communities healthy. At the beginning of the 20th century, large numbers of infectious diseases like smallpox, measles, polio, whooping cough, and diphtheria caused thousands of illnesses and deaths, but the availability of vaccines have now made these diseases rare. For their role in preventing needless illness and death, vaccines are recognized as the greatest public health achievements of both the 20th and 21st centuries.

Vaccines are safe and effective. While some parents you encounter may argue against this fact, the science is clear: vaccines are among the most studied medical products in the world and are continuously monitored for safety and effectiveness. When your students (and staff) are fully vaccinated, they are less likely to become ill with a vaccine-preventable disease and thus less likely to spread disease to other students, staff, and families on your campus who are unable to be vaccinated due to their age or a compromising medical condition.

As the new school year approaches, we ask for your support in helping us ensure your students are fully vaccinated. Whether you are a school administrator, school nurse, front office staff, or teacher, there are ways you can help support the health of your school community:

  • Be familiar with and abide by the Arizona laws (Arizona Revised Statute §15-871 – §15-874) and regulations (Arizona Administrative Code Title 9, Chapter 6, Article 7) for school immunization.
  • Support your health office personnel as they work with parents to comply with the laws and regulations, including exclusion of students from school without documented proof of immunity or exemption (Arizona Revised Statutes §15-872(B)).
  • Post your school’s vaccine coverage and exemption rates on your website.
  • Encourage school health offices or front office staff to provide vaccine education materials for parents.
  • Participate in the online Immunization Education Course pilot program.
  • Discourage parents from signing an exemption form out of convenience rather than providing documentation of immunization. Staff can direct parents to their healthcare provider or the Arizona Department of Health Services for a copy of their child’s immunization records.

We greatly appreciate everything you and your staff do to ensure students are safe, healthy, and ready to learn.


Kathy Hoffman, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services


Further Information:

Posted in Announcements, Press Releases | Tagged , , , , , , |
Published: July 19th, 2019

Supt. Hoffman Asks Legislature to Release Funds for ESA Program

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman asks the legislature to release funds for ESA program and addresses Representative Mark Finchem’s call on the Attorney General to investigate the Arizona Department of Education’s Empowerment Scholarship Program:

“It has been and remains my administration’s intent to run the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) program effectively to serve enrolled students and families. With the ESA program’s exponential growth in recent years, the legislature’s failure to adequately fund the program’s management has resulted in an increased burden for families. Parents should rightfully be upset by long hold times, and they should call their legislators and demand to know why there is over $3 million in dedicated ESA administrative funding sitting in an account, unavailable for use by the Arizona Department of Education to manage the ESA program.

The statute governing the ESA program allows for 4 percent of program funding to be allocated to cover program administration. Currently, our ESA Department receives less than half that amount – 1.62 percent. It is hypocritical for members of the legislature to attack the department on this issue when they have failed to fully fund the administration of this program year after year.

As of today, there are nearly 6,500 students on the ESA program, with more than 1,300 new applications waiting to be processed. We employ 10 full-time ESA specialists who are responsible for taking calls, processing applications and contracts, reviewing expense accounts, investigating misspent funds, and more. This equates to a caseload of roughly 650 ESA students to one specialist, which is unacceptable for workload realities.

Despite these challenges, my administration is actively working on solutions that will allow us to better serve those relying on this program. These solutions include moving to a new payment system which will be easier for parents to use, ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, and reducing the need for parents to call the department with questions on expenditures. We plan to transition to this new system in the coming months. It is an incredibly busy time of year for our ESA department, and we have approved overtime for members of our ESA staff to work this weekend and we are also working to reallocate other department resources to help answer phones to reduce hold times. The bottom line is that the department is working diligently to administer this program, despite the lack of resources allocated by the legislature.

I have made it a priority since taking office to build working relationships with members of both parties in order to best serve students and families. Arizonans deserve government officials who will work together to solve problems and find solutions — especially when it comes to our children. I am disappointed that any lawmaker would participate in efforts that only serve to damage the relationship between the department and the legislature. We have already spoken with Attorney General Brnovich’s office about our shared commitment to transparency and ways we can work collaboratively to support students and families. I appreciate his office’s willingness to work with my administration.

I urge lawmakers to provide the full amount of allowable administrative funding, so the department can effectively implement and manage this program. To do any less does a disservice to students and families.”

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