Arizona Department of Education


Published: Published: August 27th, 2019

New School Counselors Money Available for 2020

Dear Educators & Administrators,

Over the past two months, the Arizona Department of Education worked closely with the Governor’s office, State Board of Education staff, and other stakeholders to develop a plan to get $20 million dollars for school counselors, social workers, and school resource officers (SROs) to schools as quickly as possible.

 

On  Monday August 26, 2019, the State Board unanimously approved that plan and districts will be able to apply for these new funds in the coming weeks. I applaud the Governor, lawmakers, and advocates for prioritizing these issues during the last legislative session, and I look forward to finding ways to build on this work in the months ahead. Our students are counting on us to ensure their mental health and physical safety – we cannot let them down.

Our School Safety Program has published Goals & Requirements and an updated FAQ document detailing the timeline and requirements for the new grant process. The new application will open September 16, 2019 and close on September 27, 2019. Please visit their webpage for more information and resources to help you apply to bring a school counselor, social worker, or SRO officer to your school.

Sincerely,

Kathy Hoffman

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Published: 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 www.azed.gov.

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Published: 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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Published: Published: June 24th, 2019

Supt. Hoffman’s Statement on Proposed Sex Ed Amendments

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman’s statement on the proposed amendments regarding sex education at today’s State Board meeting:

“Today during our State Board of Education meeting, we heard nearly four hours of public comment regarding proposed amendments to board policies about sex education. I greatly respect that parents came to this meeting to advocate for their families and I appreciate the sensitivity that surrounds this topic.

While I have many takeaways from the comments, it became clear to me that there is misunderstanding about what is decided by districts and what guidelines can be set by the State Board of Education. Sex education curriculum is determined by districts and local school boards. Parents have always had the right to opt their child in or out of these health courses if they wish to provide that information themselves. The language proposed today did not attempt to change this, nor did it mandate or institute additional curriculum. The minor changes were intended to clean up outdated language in state guidelines and ensure that any curriculum a district chooses is medically and scientifically accurate.

I heard from community members and parents who were concerned about the information their children would be provided if their districts were to account for LGBTQ students in health education. Arizona’s public schools exist to serve all students who walk through their doors. However, for decades, codified bigotry has denied too many children information about their sexual health. I am greatly concerned with the health of our students. With rising rates of suicide, depression, and transmission of STIs, it is my utmost priority that all students have access to medically accurate information so that they can make healthy, informed choices. It is a matter of safety and respect.”

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Published: Published: April 5th, 2019

ADE and SBE Lead Stakeholder Group to Release Menu of Assessment Guidance

On behalf of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Arizona State Board of Education (SBE), Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and President of the State Board of Education Lucas J. Narducci sent a letter to district superintendents and charter leaders regarding the future of statewide assessments. The letter was in response to a communication from the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) that stated Arizona law was at odds with current federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) law regarding assessment.

In December 2018, ADE made a request to US ED asking to waive certain federal requirements as they pertain to the Menu of Assessments state law (A.R.S. 15-741.02) that passed in 2016, which required Arizona to offer a Menu of Assessments to allow schools to administer an alternate assessment instead of the statewide assessment (i.e. AzMERIT). This was designed to be phased in over a set timeframe, beginning with high school in Spring 2019 and for grades 3-8 in Spring 2020.

Last week, ADE received notification from US ED that this waiver request was denied. Since that time, ADE and SBE officials have collaborated with education stakeholders throughout the state to communicate the effects this will have on schools, as well as to work toward solutions regarding the future of statewide assessments.

Please see the letters below from Superintendent Hoffman and President Narducci to Arizona schools, as well as the letter from US ED to ADE:

US ED Letter to ADE | ADE and SBE Letter to Schools

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Published: Published: March 29th, 2019

ADE Highlights Arts Education Excellence During Youth Arts Month

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) will wrap up “Arizona Youth Arts Month” this weekend, bringing to a close a month of celebrating excellence in arts education inside and outside of schools throughout Arizona. March, which is also known as “Dance in Our Schools Month,” “Music in our Schools Month,” “Theatre in Our Schools Month” and “Youth Arts Month,” is when arts educators throughout the state are recognized for their outstanding contributions to their respective communities.

“Arts programs are an essential part of a well-rounded education system,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said. “I want to thank all of the wonderful artists – both teachers and students – for enriching our state by sharing their talents.”

ADE extends a warm congratulations to this year’s Arts Teachers of the Year:

Arizona Art Education Association Teachers of the Year

Cathy Saraniero, Cocopah Middle School, Scottsdale Unified School District

Michelle Peacock, Saguaro High School, Scottsdale Unified School District

Arizona Music Educators Association Teachers of The Year

Eric Zimmerman, Band, Orchestra & Guitar Teacher, Moon Valley High School

Jennifer Randle, Orchestra Specialist, Mesa Public Schools

Anneka Kotterman, Music Teacher, Whipple Ranch Elementary

John Snyder, Secondary Choral Festival Coordinator, Mesa Public Schools

Arizona Dance Education Organization “Katherine Lindholm Lane Dance Educator of the Year”

Tiffany White, Mesquite High School, Gilbert Public Schools

Arizona Thespians Teachers of the Year

Corey Quinn, Central Region, Mountain Pointe High School

Laura Colletti, North Region, Centennial High School

Jessica Armistead, South Region, Cienega High School

Flagstaff Arts Council 2019 Viola Award Winner for Excellence in Arts Education

Kathy Marron, Thomas Elementary School, Flagstaff Unified School District

In addition, many schools and arts organizations around the state promoted high-quality arts programs and stories of excellence. JO Combs High School opened their new Performing Arts Center, Nogales Unified School District debuted murals in partnership with the Ben’s Bells organization to encourage kindness and the UBU Project promoted peer-led substance abuse prevention through the arts at Cactus Shadows High School.

In addition, the Rising Youth Theatre has utilized theater to stimulate healthy emotional development at Create Academy, while representatives from ADE were invited to join parents and families at arts celebrations in the Agua Fria and Alhambra School Districts. The ADE Office of Arts Education is also thrilled to announce that the arts are the first non-federally mandated discipline to link arts education student enrollment and access data on the Arizona State School Report Cards for greater transparency and accountability.

March also marked the announcement of winners of the Southwest Airlines and the Phoenix Suns “Heart of Freedom Art and Essay Contest,” Arizona Department of the Administration “Cybersecurity Calendar Contest” and ADE’s 4th Grade Collaborative Visual Arts Competition “WeAreAz” statewide arts competitions.

If you’d like to know more information about the Office of Arts Education and our programs, please visit our website: http://www.azed.gov/artseducation/. You can sign up for our blog and explore arts education resources.

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Published: Published: March 22nd, 2019

Arizona Wraps Up Its Celebration of National CACFP Week

In recognition of operators of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), a federally-funded Child Nutrition Program administered by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), the Department joined 392 child care centers and preschools, 273 Head Start programs, seven emergency shelters, 325 afterschool programs, 12 adult day care centers and more than 2,200 in-home child care providers in celebrating National CACFP Week.

“We can all agree that basic nutrition is foundational to health and well-being,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said. “These are essential values that we all share, regardless of any cultural or socio-economic differences. In order do the work of educating our children, nothing is more important than ensuring the quality of their health.”

The CACFP helps participating facilities serve nutritious meals and snacks to children and adults in their care. In 2018, the CACFP provided over 31 million meals and snacks to children and adults in Arizona.

Additionally, the program supports caregivers and educators through their work in establishing positive eating habits, promoting healthy growth and development of young children, as well as supporting the health and wellness of older adults, the chronically impaired and disabled persons.

Participating providers receive financial support, training and technical assistance, as well as ongoing compliance monitoring visits to maintain program integrity. Those enrolled in CACFP facilities are afforded access to high-quality meals and snacks at no additional cost to the family.

ADE supports participating facilities willing to continue to celebrate National CACFP Week all year by exploring one of the seven opportunities outlined on the attached flyer. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to ask their care facilities about their participation in the CACFP.

For additional information about the CACFP or to access a list of facilities currently operating the CACFP, please visit www.azed.gov/hns/cacfp. Or feel free to call 602-542-8700 (press 1 for Community Nutrition Programs) to learn more about these invaluable programs.

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Published: Published: March 14th, 2019

Superintendent Hoffman Announces Capacity Review Findings

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the findings of an internal capacity review of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The review was conducted to better ascertain ADE’s capacity to support schools and deliver a high-quality education to all students.

“I promised during my campaign that under my leadership ADE would be an agency of service and transparent about these findings,” Superintendent Hoffman said. “This capacity review has provided us invaluable information that we will use to develop a strategic plan forward that delivers on that promise.”

The review was conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) over a two-day period in February. During the two days, CCSSO gathered evidence on key aspects of the department’s capacity. The evidence was related to areas including vision and planning, ADE culture and capacity, as well as external relationships and communication. In the process of this review, CCSSO spoke with more than 80 staff members and external stakeholders including Superintendent Hoffman, her leadership team, administrative staff, mid- and upper-level ADE management, public school teachers, district superintendents, political partners and parents.

Among the key findings were that communication is improving, both internally and externally, with ADE employees and stakeholders both pointing to examples of noteworthy progress. Interviewees also praised the new administration’s focus on reaching out and listening to various education stakeholders.

The review also highlighted several areas where more work is needed. Specifically, the improvements in communication are just a start, and more can be done to build on the early work in this area. Additionally, there is a clear need for an overarching vision and strategic plan that unites and focuses the work of the department. This vision and plan would define success and set benchmarks for progress. Additionally, there was broad agreement that this process should heavily involve stakeholders that are served by the department.

In the coming months, the Hoffman administration will work diligently to develop a path forward with the end goal being a department of education that effectively and equitably serves students, schools and communities. The financial audit committee, which continues to meet, will release the findings of that audit at a later date.

Capacity Review Findings

In February 2019, Superintendent Kathy Hoffman invited the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to conduct a capacity review and present the results to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) leadership team. A capacity review is a rapid, yet thorough, review of the agency’s capacity, or the extent to which a state education agency is set up to deliver on its goals for students. A team from CCSSO interviewed agency staff and a diverse set of stakeholders from around the state to develop a full picture of system activities at all levels. We used this feedback to identify bright spots as well as areas of focus and potential solutions for ADE. The review will serve as a baseline by which progress can be measured over time. As ADE and its partners continue their work, this review will help everyone understand the areas of greatest strength and challenge.

Process

To determine ADE current capacity to achieve its goals for students, CCSSO gathered evidence from key stakeholders. We also looked at data in the public domain, and news and current events.

  • Superintendent Hoffman
  • ADE leadership team
  • Internal ADE staff at all levels
  • District superintendents
  • Teachers
  • Principals
  • Political partners
  • Advocacy groups
  • Parents

    Bright Spots

    Throughout our information gathering, consistent bright spots emerged.

    Department staff possess the will to deliver on the goals of the department. Staff consistently commended one another for their commitment to the work. ADE employees acknowledge that the agency exists to serve the field. There is a strong foundation to build on due to the dedication of staff.

    The leadership team is perceived to be off to a good start and they have generated a great deal of momentum and good will. Both staff and external stakeholders indicated their eagerness to work with Superintendent Hoffman and the new administration at ADE. Interviewees across the spectrum praised the Superintendent’s focus on reaching out and listening to various education stakeholders.

    Communication is already improving. Interviewees indicated that ADE has historically been siloed and hard to engage. However, both internal and external stakeholders were able to identify examples of dramatic improvement since January. External representatives pointed out Superintendent Hoffman’s presence at various events in the field since taking office, and ADE staff were happy to be receiving more communication from the leadership team.

    Areas of Focus

    Focus groups helped to identify various challenges.

    Strategic Vision. As is typical for a new administration, there is a sense of purpose, but no clear overarching vision that unites the work of the agency. Beyond campaign priorities, there is little guidance on what the core work is for the agency as a whole. Much of the development of goals and strategies up to this point has been driven at the program level within individual teams. Though this results in some clarity on strategy in those teams, there is no sense of what it all adds up to. The lack of agency-wide vision also means that priorities are often determined in reaction to the legislature. The state’s Every Student Succeeds Act consolidated state plan contains student outcome goals but there is not a sense that those goals are driving the department’s work.

    Plan for Implementing the Vision There is not yet a plan guiding the department’s work. Multiple teams within the department are doing duplicative and uncoordinated work, which makes it difficult to provide a consistent customer service experience to the field. For example, in many cases, external stakeholders do not know who to call to resolve an issue, or two people within the agency will give differing answers to the same inquiry. There is no consistent approach to implementation to reach the field at scale; districts are not currently looking to the department to help them in their work.

    Internal Focus and Investment. ADE is facing two key infrastructure challenges that must be resolved for operations to improve. First, the agency’s information technology systems are considerably out of date and not able to provide the reliable data needed for staff to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Second, there needs to be a focus on streamlining the human capital management process, which is overly complex in some respects, vague in others, and time-intensive, presenting major barrier to hiring, onboarding, retaining, and promoting staff at the department.

    Suggested Solutions

    The capacity review revealed some key areas of work that agency leaders should focus on in the next several months. Get clearer about the vision and make it public. Clarify ADE’s vision for students in Arizona and define what success looks like. Engage stakeholders in the development of this vision to build broad buy-in and to leverage the partnerships needed to advance that vision. Once established, make sure the vision is visible in the agency building for staff and is pervasive in ADE’s communications.

    Build a detailed plan. Engage stakeholders in the development and implementation of a clear strategic plan to execute on the vision.

  • The plan should be consistent with the vision statement and clearly describe the role that ADE plays in improving student achievement.
  • Establish key outcome goals, measures, timelines, and establish a “delivery unit” charged with executing the plan.
  • Engage staff and stakeholders in order to build broad ownership for the plan and ensure that everyone understands how their work connects to the vision.
  • Communicate the plan.
  • The strategy for building the plan, including a timeline, needs to be shared as soon as possible. It should also include shorter-term goals around some quick wins for 2019.

    Make it easier to hire, develop, and promote staff. The quality of the ADE staff is a clear strength, but they still face considerable barriers. The agency can reduce these barriers through procedural improvements, such as shortening the time it takes to fill vacancies, creating a universal onboarding and professional development plan, and improving visibility into the requirements for promotion. To the extent possible, repurpose the current employee evaluation tool into something that can drive more meaningful growth discussions.

    Build on existing goodwill among stakeholders. Superintendent Hoffman gets high praise for her outreach and availability. Stakeholders are looking to be more deeply engaged, and to be brought into discussions about how the agency’s vision will be implemented and what their role in that implementation might be. Superintendent Hoffman is still very new to office, so laying the groundwork now for meaningful engagement can help build a durable coalition for the future. Build predictable ways to receive feedback from the field and be transparent about how stakeholder feedback will be visibly reflected in the actions and priorities of the department.

    Posted in Press Releases | Tagged , , , , , |
    Published: Published: March 1st, 2019

    Register for ADE Teacher Job Fairs!

    Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is encouraging potential teachers to attend the Southern Arizona Job Fair on Saturday, March 2 in Tucson and the Statewide Arizona Education Job Fair on Saturday, March 9 in Phoenix. Both job fairs will be hosted by the Exceptional Student Services Division of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).

    “Student success is not possible without highly-qualified teachers in the classroom,” Superintendent Hoffman said. “Schools only function with the hard work of our teachers, but year after year, we have seen a devastating number of teachers leave the profession or move out of state. Events such as these job fairs are incredible opportunities to help effectively address some of those concerns.”

    The driving force behind the event was to create a one-stop-shop for potential teachers and schools attempting to fill open positions. Thus far, at least 160 traditional district, charter, private day and Bureau of Indian Education schools will attend at least one of the job fairs, as well as at least 37 community partners that are ready to provide potential educators with a considerable amount of resources. There are already more than 900 registrations for either one of the events.

    A fingerprinting service, interviewing rooms for schools to discuss opportunities with candidates, as well as representatives from ADE will be on hand to counsel attendees on becoming a certified teacher in Arizona. The attending schools will be able to issue letters of intent and job offers to prospective teachers pending background checks.

    “The intent of events like our job fairs is for ADE to be an agency of service to the educational community,” Superintendent Hoffman said. “These events offer potential educators the opportunity to walk home with a job. It is free for prospective teachers to attend and you can literally go home having changed your life and the lives of your potential students for the better in one day.”

    The Southern Arizona Education Job Fair will take place on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at the Doubletree by Hilton Tucson Reid Park on 445 South Alvernon Way in Tucson, AZ, 85711 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The Statewide Arizona Education Job Fair will be held on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Conference Center on 9495 W. Coyotes Blvd. in Glendale, AZ 85306 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

    To register or learn more information about either job fair, please visit http://teachinaz.com/. Media interested in attending should email or call the press contact listed above.

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