The Arizona Education Progress Meter is being used as catalyst to drive conversations at the community level all across the state. For example, more than 35 local governments have issued proclamations in support of the Progress Meter goals. Additionally, a number of schools districts have adopted the Progress Meter and aligned their strategic plans with goals for their students and teachers. Foundations and other philanthropy groups are asking grantees to show how programs or initiatives that receive funding will help advance the Progress Meter goals. And various Chambers of Commerce are using the goals to help set their policy agendas for the upcoming year. We’ve shared a few great examples below! We hope these stories will inspire your community or organization to find innovative ways to align existing efforts with the Progress Meter.
Helios Education Foundation and Arizona State University announced a historic partnership that will serve as a nexus for facilitating education research and practice in Arizona. The project is intended to bring a new level of data analysis and sophistication to our state’s efforts to improve education outcomes for all students.
The Decision Center for Educational Excellence Powered by Helios Education Foundation is a first-of-its-kind computational model of Arizona’s pre-K through post-secondary education system, which will provide real-time feedback on how policies, practices, new innovations and other interventions would affect the state’s complex education system.
The computer-generated model will allow stakeholders to identify bright spots in the state’s education system that may be scalable system-wide. It will also help to identify interventions that could serve to improve performance in underperforming schools.
More than 300 organizations across the state have set statewide goals for the eight key education milestones outlined in the Progress Meter and many stakeholders are involved in developing strategies to help reach those goals. The work that will be done at the Decision Center will help the state realize these goals.
The partnership will leverage ASU’s strengths in computational modeling, complex systems and innovation with Helios’ commitment to student success. The model will offer Arizona’s decision-makers, from school leaders to policymakers, the tools needed to make informed, effective, data-driven decisions that support a high-quality education for all Arizona students.
As a math educator, Representative Michelle Udall, R-25, appreciates the importance of math education. She’s also keenly aware that most students in Arizona are not proficient in grade-level mathematics.
That’s why she’s leading a charge to identify and share best practices for improving eighth grade math proficiency in conjunction with the Arizona Education Progress Meter goal. She’s focused on eighth grade math because it’s a strong indicator of how students will perform in high school, whether they’re likely to drop out, and even whether they’ll continue on to college.
Rep. Udall has identified dozens of educational leaders from all over the state who represent districts and charter schools with exceptional eighth grade math results. Organized into geographical “lightning rod” groups, representatives have joined from all corners of Arizona, including Benson, Cave Creek, Mesa, Mohave Valley, Phoenix, Safford, Snowflake and Vail. They will work together to identify what’s working and how best to replicate results for widespread success and growth.
The process is already underway. Groups have been formed and some common methods have emerged. For instance, most successful schools are reliant on data to monitor progress and re-set or re-teach where needed. What’s more, they started with a specific plan to identify their goals and plan for achieving them.
A number of philanthropic organizations in Arizona are looking to align their giving with the goals outlined in the Progress Meter, including the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, The Rodel Foundation of Arizona, Social Venture Partners, and The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation.
Social Venture Partners hosted an Ed Pitch competition last month to challenge Arizona college students to develop innovative solutions that will advance one or more goals in the Progress Meter. Five teams were chosen to compete from a field of 16 applicants and aligned their entrepreneurial idea to the Progress Meter. The winning team received $50,000 to bring their idea to life.
Rodel Foundation of Arizona, Arizona Community Foundation, Ellis Center for Educational Excellence and JPMorgan Chase Foundation joined with Governor Doug Ducey and the Center for the Future of Arizona to announce a $1.24 million public-private investment to fund an expanded system of career pathways, which are responsive to industry growth needs and create long-term career opportunities for young people in Arizona. The project will improve four of the Progress Meter indicators: high school graduation, opportunity youth, post-high school enrollment, and attainment. The Arizona Pathways to Prosperity Project was originally created in 2015 and works with Arizona companies and industry to develop work, internship and certification opportunities. Students can get experience in all kinds of fields. The additional funding will pay for more programs and ways to prepare Arizona’s students for the future over the next three years.
Finally, the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation has modified its grant application to ask potential grantees to provide a description of how the organization’s project will drive improvement toward one or more of the Progress Meter goals. The Freeport McMorRan Foundation has also started using the Progress Meter as a framework for its philanthropic giving.
Upon adopting the Progress Meter and the state’s attainment goal, community leaders in Pinal County banded together to establish Achieve Pinal, a formal committee of the Pinal Alliance for Economic Growth. The group is focused on improving the Pinal County workforce by increasing the level of educational attainment of residents and preparing workers for the 30,000 expected jobs in the region within the next five to ten years. The committee is working to connect local governments, school districts and the business community in Pinal County to work together to improve the county-wide workforce.
Mirroring the statewide initiative, Achieve60AZ, a cross section of community leaders representing business, education, government and the non-profit community make up the committee. The volunteer group is working to develop a county-wide workforce development strategy.
One of the goals of the committee is to work with all Pinal County superintendents to begin career exploration with seventh grade students. As seventh graders begin to think about careers they will be better prepared for selecting high school and college courses. Reaching students as early as seventh grade helps them be cognizant of what they want to do in the future and how the decisions they make in high school will impact those career goals. Currently, the Casa Grande Middle School offers week-long career camps in the summer to help students get a feel for what to expect of careers and the education or training required beyond a high school diploma.
Achieve Pinal is aligning their action plans with the Achieve60AZ Strategies. Student achievement and post-graduate achievement in Pinal County will be measured and the next focus areas to be addressed are “opportunity youth” and high school students and their families.
In Douglas, a dozen leaders from the civic, business, and educational arenas have joined together to form the Douglas Education Partnership Council. Born out of the Arizona Education Progress Meter’s goals to improve specific education metrics for all Arizona students, the Council in Douglas will work together to galvanize the community to support local schools.
To begin, the Council will analyze where students in Douglas stand today and how best they can be supported. The City of Douglas has already shown support for the Arizona Education Progress Meter and recognizes that it needs to make education a top priority in the community to ensure a strong economic future and a higher quality of life for everyone. The city understands that the future economy and workforce demands will require more than a high school diploma, and that currently only 32 percent of Cochise/Santa Cruz Counties adults currently possess a degree, certificate or industry credential.
The Douglas Education Partnership Council believes in the importance of the community coming together and the significance of partnerships to achieve big goals and tackle large issues, such as those defined by the Progress Meter. To help students thrive in school and beyond, the Council will link the many interdependent parts of the system, including families, community members, school leaders and businesses through regular communications and common goals.