LAUNCH Flagstaff was created to improve educational outcomes for local students. LAUNCH (Learn, Advocate, Unite, Network, Contribute, Help) is working toward improving five key metrics, including: kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading, eighth-grade math, high school graduation and postsecondary attainment.

It’s no mistake that these focus areas are aligned with the Arizona Education Progress Meter – the LAUNCH team made a deliberate decision to align their work to the Progress Meter for a number of reasons. For instance, the Progress Meter’s availability of key data provides a starting point for planning. As an example, only 37 percent of third graders in Coconino County are proficient in reading. The data, paired with goals for each of the Progress Meter metrics also creates a strong call-to-action for local decision-makers. This sense of urgency is critical to enlist support from community organizations, school leaders and local businesses.

What’s more, the eight specific metrics in the Progress Meter serve to keep the focus on what matters and ensures that both state and local levels are working toward the same goal to create collective success.

LAUNCH is currently focused on tackling early literacy, with an eye toward improving third grade reading levels. To do that, they’ll work to improve literacy in early years, from birth through age eight.

Recently, LAUNCH Flagstaff was awarded Acceleration Zone status by Read On Arizona, which will allow them to closely monitor literacy data and identify strategies for improving reading skills. The team will work with local elementary schools to pinpoint best practices and share those that work. Employing the aid of school principals and literacy coaches will allow them to dig into common trends and better understand what works for which students.

Thanks to generous support of United Way of Northern Arizona, Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff and the Wharton Foundation, LAUNCH is improving both Flagstaff’s quality of education and the community’s well-being. By ensuring that both families and stakeholders understand that literacy starts in the earliest years, LAUNCH will create long-term change.

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