In a county with 23,000 students spread over an area larger than the state of Connecticut, schools leaders are joining with the business and other community leaders to marry their efforts and improve learning for all of their students.

In particular, the Cochise County School Superintendent’s office has been reviewing and monitoring Arizona Education Progress Meter data for over a year. The rural county has found the data very valuable since they can compare and contrast with other counties, as well as statewide results and their own history.

Data in the Progress Meter is serving as their baseline, which they will be able to measure against future years and determine whether their efforts are having the desired impact. Local leaders are seeking to improve student achievement, particularly related to early learning and third grade reading.

The superintendent’s office will be investing in a literacy app geared toward pre-K through third grade students. It has a proven track record of driving scores upward, so it should be a boon for local readers. Better yet, each parent and child will have a unique account, which will give educators the opportunity to track and better understand where their students excel, and where they might need extra assistance.

Cochise College is also part of the effort, working with their foundation and the county sheriff’s office to address the issue of opportunity youth, or the 15 percent of youth aged 16-24 in the region who are neither working nor in school. The College has already hired and placed “navigators” into area high schools, to help keep youth on the track to higher education and keep them focused. The navigators serve as advisors to students so that they can guide them through high school and into the higher education space.

Together, these groups, along with the business community, are moving forward and utilizing the Progress Meter as both their baseline and their goalpost. Armed with a clear understanding of where they are today, the county can adopt and evaluate new initiatives with confidence.