Arizona not on track to meet key education goals
PHOENIX — Arizona is not on track to meet key education goals set four years ago.
The Arizona Education Progress Meter set goals for the state to meet by 2030, ranging from access to quality early learning to post-secondary attainment.
“It’s clear that the state isn’t on progress to meet our broadly supported goals,” said Christine Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona.
“It isn’t all bad news,” she added. “As a state we’ve gained ground in a number of areas.”
Proficiency rates for 8th grade math and 3rd grade reading have increased 5% and 6%, respectively, since 2016. In 2018, 46% of 3rd graders were proficient in reading, while 41 percent of 8th graders were proficient in math.
At the same time, the number of youth who aren’t working or going to school, also known as opportunity youth, decreased from 15% in 2015 to 13% in 2018. And the percent of Arizona residents with college degrees or certificates has increased slightly, from 42% in 2015 to 46% in 2018.
The progress meter shows the state is far behind meeting the state’s goal of having 3- and 4-year-olds who are enrolled in quality early learning settings. The state also has a long way to go to improve the high school graduation rate, which was 78% in 2018.
Thompson said students in poverty and students of color also continue to perform at drastically lower rates than the state average.
“We need to do more in order to address their needs,” she said. “This is important because we need every student in the state to succeed not only for them to reach their potential, but for our state to reach our potential.”
She said a strong education system will create and support a talent pipeline that attracts businesses to Arizona.
Thompson added the findings of the Arizona Education Progress Meter “makes the case for why we need to invest more in education.”
A poll commissioned by Expect More Arizona finds voters agree more money is needed for education.
The poll of 600 Arizona voters finds that for the fifth year in a row, voters believe education is the most important issue facing the state. The vast majority of voters also believe funding for K-12 schools is too low and that salaries for K-12 teachers is also too low.
“We’ve got a long way to go in education, and I think voters recognize that there needs to be additional investments,” Thompson said.