Press Releases


Published: December 12th, 2018

Superintendent Douglas Gives Exit Interview on Horizon

Superintendent Douglas appeared on Horizon this past Monday and spoke with Ted Simons regarding her four-year tenure as Superintendent of Public Instruction.

They discussed her promise to voters to repeal the Common Core Standards, the recent updates to the Science and Social Studies standards, the primary election and what work is left outstanding in Arizona’s education system.

You can view the entirety of the interview here: https://azpbs.org/horizon/2018/12/outgoing-arizona-superintendent-of-public-instruction-diane-douglas/

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Published: December 3rd, 2018

Superintendent Douglas Announces EL Teacher of the Year

Miriam Romero

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas announced that the 2018 Arizona English Language Learner (EL) Teacher of the Year is Miriam Romero of Carrillo K-5 Magnet School in the Tucson Unified School District.

“It is an honor to recognize Miriam Romero as an outstanding teacher,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Her passion and commitment to educating Arizona’s EL students were evident by the way her school and students reacted to the news that she was selected the 2018 Arizona EL Teacher of the Year.”

Romero will be honored at a banquet on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson. This event is being held in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition Services (OELAS) 2018 Conference, “The Art of Language.”

The process for choosing the 2018 Arizona EL Teacher of the Year began with the call for applications in May of 2018. In October, judging by a panel of peers was facilitated by OELAS, and the honoree was chosen.

On November 13, 2018, Superintendent Douglas and officials from OELAS made a surprise visit to Carrillo K-5 Magnet School in Tucson to inform Mrs. Romero that she had been selected the 2018 Arizona EL Teacher of the Year.

When asked about her educational philosophy, Mrs. Romero stated, “I feel privileged to teach and learn with the children in my ELD [English Language Development] Resource classes. As a teacher, I help my students bridge this divide between home and school, two worlds which traditionally have been at odds with each other for many generations of EL students in the United States. Throughout the year I use my SEI [Structured English Immersion] lessons to instill a sense of purpose and pride behind all the English learning we do at school. I want my students to see themselves as academics who hold an integral part in the school and their communities at large. It is my job to teach my students the skills they need to continue their growth as scholars, learning, evolving and thinking critically about their role in society, long after they leave my classroom.”

Mrs. Romero continued, “It is essential that instructors make school a safe and accepting place for their students. An instructor must take their varied students’ life experiences, cultures, histories and languages as source of inspiration for student learning. Achieving this high level of participation can be challenging. For EL teachers, involving students who may have very limited English or are unsure of their academic voice can be a constant struggle. It is essential you learn about and recognize who your students are beyond their traditional classroom identity, which is usually based on test scores and very antiquated notions of what makes a good scholar.”

Miriam Romero was born in Tucson, Arizona and began her teaching career in the Tucson Unified School District, where she has taught for 12 years. For the last 11 years, she has been teaching at Carrillo K-5 Magnet School, the school she attended as a student. Over the course of her teaching career, Mrs. Romero has taught first through fifth grade English learners. Miriam received dual degrees from the University of Arizona in 2007. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Education concentrated in Bilingual Education as well as a Bachelor of Arts concentrated in Spanish and Portuguese Literature. Her endorsements include English as a Second Language and Library/Educational Media. Miriam is married and has four amazing children.

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Published: October 11th, 2018

Five Arizona Schools Being Honored Amongst the Nation’s Best

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas was proud to announce today which Arizona schools will be honored as 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

“The best part of my job is being able to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of our Arizona schools and students,” Superintendent Douglas said. “These schools are an example for all others to follow. By putting the children first, these schools are now able to receive national recognition and take a well-deserved bow for their commitment to excellence.”

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

Name

Franklin Junior High School, Mesa

Gilbert Classical Academy High School, Gilbert

Knox Gifted Academy, Chandler

Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, Mesa

Vista College Preparatory, Phoenix

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award recognizes the efforts of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

Now in its 36th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,800 schools. On November 7 and 8, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her agency will celebrate with all honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

All schools are honored in one of two performance 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.

    At least 420 schools are nominated on a yearly basis. The U.S. Department of Education accepts National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education (CAPE).

    NOTE TO EDITORS: Photographs and brief descriptions of the 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools are available at www.ed.gov/nationalblueribbonschools.

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    Published: October 10th, 2018

    Statement On Former State Superintendent Carolyn Warner’s Passing

    Carolyn Warner served as the 15th Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, elected as a Democrat, from 1975 to 1987. Warner passed away on October 9, 2018 at the age of 88.

    Statement From Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas on former Superintendent Warner’s passing:

    “I am deeply saddened by the news of Carolyn’s passing. She was an extremely kind and wonderful person who led a full and amazing life.

    “Although we were from different sides of the political aisle, there was no other former Superintendent of Public Instruction that was nearly as gracious and kindhearted to me as Carolyn. Even after completing three terms in this office, Carolyn remained very active in the educational community, serving with me as Co-Chair on the Career and Technical Education Quality Skills Commission and dedicating her valuable time and energy to the students of Arizona until her final days. She will be sorely missed.”

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    Published: October 4th, 2018

    ADE’s Arizona Charter Schools Program Receives $55 Million Grant

    Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas proudly announced that the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) Arizona Charter Schools Program (AZCSP) was the recipient of a $55 million Title IV grant from the US Department of Education. The purpose of the grant is to hold competitive applications for school leaders interested in opening charter schools that serve disadvantaged Arizona students.

    “I am very proud of our Arizona Charter Schools Program for receiving a grant that will benefit disadvantaged students,” Superintendent Douglas said. “It is our duty in education – and as a state – to protect and foster the growth of our most vulnerable students. These types of schools will offer yet another educational choice for Arizona students and parents.”

    Training for the grant will take place on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, from 1-4 pm at the ADE offices located at 1535 West Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85007. If five or more school entities in southern Arizona or five or more in northern Arizona express interest in the AZCSP application training by October 15, 2018, AZCSP staff will present an in-person training in Tucson and/or Flagstaff. AZCSP will also present a follow-up webinar. The webinar date and time will be posted at AZCSP’s website: http://www.azed.gov/charter-school-program/alert/.

    Anyone interested in applying for the subgrant is welcome to attend the training. However, the only applicants allowed to apply in 2018 1) must have already submitted their charter application to the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools (ASBCS) in May 2018 or 2) must have already submitted a replication application to ASBCS. Either application must be approved by ASBCS at its December 2018 public meeting. New Arizona State University (ASU) sponsored charter schools must also be approved by December 2018.

    Subrecipients will be supported by a $250,000 annual award over a period of five years for a total of $1.25 million. Five award competitions will be held annually in November 2018 through 2022. Subrecipients must agree to participate in AZCSP staff and contractor instructional and finance/operational/grants management technical assistance all five years. For interested entities seeking further information or assistance, please contact Mark Francis at 602-542-4020 or [email protected].

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    Published: September 12th, 2018

    ADE Finalizes Favorable Resolutions for Audit Findings

    Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has reached final agreements with the United States Department of Education (ED) to correct audit findings related to its federal Title I and special education (IDEA) allocations.

    The finalized resolutions mark the end of a thorough review and recalculation process conducted by ADE staff and third-party, independent consultants since the findings and their underlying causes were initially identified in State Auditor General and ED audits. In addition to recalculating allocations, ADE has also implemented internal policy and staff changes to ensure that future funding awards are accurate and reliable.

    Under the finalized resolution agreements, any underfunded schools will be made whole over a period of one or more fiscal years and no overfunded schools will be required to repay any monies. Final revised allocations for fiscal year 2019 will be available to schools before the end of September.

    “I am pleased that we have at long last completed this process with the U.S. Department of Education, bringing needed closure to our schools and districts and building a solid foundation for our allocations process in the future,” Superintendent Douglas said. “It is a testament to the hard work of my staff that we were able to resolve these issues without any additional adverse impact to Arizona students. We look forward to working with impacted schools to ensure they have the support they need.”

    Specific information related to the two resolutions is available below.

    Title I

    The resolution of this finding required a full recalculation of all Title I allocations for fiscal years 2014–2017, and the creation of an updated, vetted and validated allocation process for fiscal year 2018 and future years.

    LEAs that were overfunded during the impacted fiscal years will not be required to repay any previously awarded funds as a result of the findings. All underfunded LEAs will be made whole over a period of one to four years beginning in fiscal year 2019. 90 percent of all underfunded LEAs will be made whole in one year. LEAs that were cumulatively underfunded between $100,000-$150,000 will be made whole over three years, while LEAs that were cumulatively underfunded over $150,000 will be made whole over four years.

    Special Education (IDEA)

    This resolution requires ADE to make entities whole for the affected fiscal years of 2015, 2016, and 2017. The repayments will begin in fiscal year 2019 and will be completed in fiscal year 2023, spread evenly over five years. School districts and charter schools that were overfunded will not be required to return funds previously awarded.

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    Published: August 16th, 2018

    Arizona Department of Education Releases Final 2017-18 AzMERIT Results

    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/.

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    Published: August 15th, 2018

    Zip Code Project to Hold First Combined Summit

    The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) will hold its first-ever summit between two different regions of the Zip Code Project on Friday, August 17, bringing together the South Phoenix and West Phoenix-Maryvale regions in an effort to assist disconnected youth.

    “The Zip Code Project identifies areas with high concentrations of disconnected youth and focuses on bringing community resources together to assist them,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “Left unaided, these young people will often end up pursuing futures that include crime, welfare or other unacceptable outcomes. Our mission with the Zip Code Project is to help these young adults get back on the path to a successful, happy and productive life.”

    The Zip Code Project is an ADE initiative dedicated to assisting disconnected youth ages 16-24 that are neither employed nor attending school. The initiative was designed to bring government, community and non-profit organizations together to develop Community Boards of Action in an effort to end youth disconnection.

    The purpose of the summit is to pool community resources together to develop a plan of action to complete over the next 10-12 months. A few topics to be discussed will include the following:

  • development and recruitment of a Zip Code Project Youth Advisory Council to assist with the direction of the project.
  • creation of a volunteer mentorship program to allow professionals to mentor youth in areas such as FAFSA paperwork, resume building, career advising and skill realization.
  • discuss a potential partnership with Arizona State University for developing an iPhone and Android App that helps provide resources for disconnected youth.
  • receive feedback from community partners on their new plans and goals for the school year.
  • ADE also intends to facilitate 2018-19 Zip Code Project Launch events in both Chinle and Ajo. More information on those events will be coming soon. For those interested in attending the 2018 South Phoenix/West Phoenix-Maryvale Zip Code Project Summit, please find the info below:

  • Date: 2-4 p.m., Friday, August 17
  • Location: Arizona Department of Education, 1535 West Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • RSVP to Ensure Space: [email protected]
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    Published: August 8th, 2018

    Superintendent Douglas Praises Streamlining of Certification Processes

    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/.

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    Published: August 1st, 2018

    Superintendent Douglas: Welcome Back to School

    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.”

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