Arizona’s 2011-2012 AIMS test scores and high school graduation rates were recently released. The great news is that Arizona’s high school graduation rates are on the rise. From 2010 to 2011, Arizona’s 4 year high school graduation rate increased 2.4 percentage points to 78%. Graduation rates gains for Latino/Hispanic students were even greater, growing from 68% in 2010 to 72% this year, although they still are below the state’s average. The following counties saw significant growth in high school graduation rates: Graham, Greenlee, Mohave, Pima and Santa Cruz.
On a more concerning note, Arizona’s 3rd grade AIMS reading scores went from 76% in 2011 to 75% in 2012. With the state’s new Common Core Standards and the Move on When Reading law taking effect in 2013-2014, it is more critical than ever that our 3rd graders are reading at grade level. Ensuring that 3rd graders are reading proficiently is a critical step in ensuring that they graduate high school ready to succeed in college, career and in life.
As Arizonans, we need to come together and support high quality early learning opportunities for all children and ensure that every Arizona child is prepared to enter kindergarten. Research shows a direct correlation between a child’s kindergarten readiness and their academic success in later grades. Investment at the first stage of the continuum builds a foundation to help children stay on track and succeed at key milestones such as 3rd grade reading proficiency. For more resources in supporting early childhood education, please visit www.azftf.gov. Additionally, the state legislature and the Governor supported $40 million to be invested into early literacy in the past budget cycle. The State Board of Education is administering the application for these grants for each district, but at an estimated $132 per student, is this enough funding to make a difference? We need to work together to ensure that we make the best use of our scarce resources to support literacy instruction, intervention and teacher professional development. We also need to advocate that more funding is invested into our children’s earliest years.
To that end, Expect More Arizona supports propositions 118 and 204 because they direct more resources into education at a critical juncture when Arizona is raising expectations for education. Education should be an investment that we are willing to make and one from which we should expect great returns. These propositions will provide resources to help implement bar-raising measures such as Arizona’s Common Core Standards and Move On When Reading.
Ultimately, these resources will help us ensure a world-class education for every Arizona student and help them succeed in college, career and life.