COVID-19 pandemic causes Arizona to fall further behind on meeting key education goals

Jan 7, 2022, 4:45 AM
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona has several education goals to reach by 2030, and so far the pandemic has caused the state to fall further behind.

“This data is really a reflection of the pandemic on our education system,” Rich Nickel, president and CEO of the advocacy group Education Forward Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“So yes, we’re going to see results that we don’t like. But they’re not unexpected considering where we are.”

The Arizona Education Progress Meter was created in 2016. It sets goals for the state to meet on everything from access to quality early learning to post-secondary attainment.

The latest data for the progress meter shows an 11% drop in third grade reading proficiency and a 14% drop in eighth grade math proficiency over the past three years.

High school graduation rates saw a slight decrease while post high school enrollment now stands at 46%, down from 53% in 2018.

“We’re seeing that students of all ages, from early education to K-12 and postsecondary education, they’ve all been negatively affected by the pandemic,” Nickel said.

For Nickel, it’s especially concerning to see the number of 3- and 4-year-olds participating in early learning opportunities drop from 24% to 17% over the past three years.

“We don’t think it’s a far reach to predict that, that will ripple through the continuum as those students enter grade school and elementary school and continue on,” he said.

Nickel explained children who have access to quality early learning are more prepared for kindergarten. It also helps them develop their vocabulary, math and social skills. And as they move forward in school, they’re more likely to do well and graduate.

He added students living in poverty and students of color have been impacted the most by the pandemic and continue to perform at drastically lower rates than the state average.

“I think the way we should look at this probably isn’t thinking about how far does this put us behind, but what should we be doing moving forward,” Nickel said.

He said this should be “a catalyst” for state lawmakers, business leaders and education officials to come together and work toward meeting the state’s education achievement goals.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Jeff Flake, the new U.S. ambassador to Turkey, p...
Associated Press

Ex-US Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona begins post as ambassador to Turkey

Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona formally stepped into his new position as U.S. ambassador to Turkey on Wednesday.
17 hours ago
(Pexels photo)...

3 children, 1 woman taken to hospital after multi-vehicle accident in Phoenix

A multi-vehicle accident in Phoenix injured three children and a young woman on Wednesday, authorities said.
17 hours ago
(Barrett-Jackson Photo)...
Kevin Stone

3 ‘Fast Saga’ movie cars for sale at Scottsdale’s Barrett-Jackson auction

Buckle up. Three cars from the "Fast Saga" movie collection are hitting the block during Saturday’s session of the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale.
17 hours ago
(Arizona Department of Public Safety Photos)...

2 California men jailed after Arizona troopers find 130 pounds of meth in car

Two California men were jailed after state troopers seized 130 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop in northern Arizona last week, authorities said.
17 hours ago
(Arizona State Parks and Trails Photo)...
Associated Press

Hiker dies after falling hundreds of feet in Superstition Mountains

A hiker camping on a peak in the Superstition Mountains east of metro Phoenix was found dead after apparently slipping while taking a photo and falling hundreds of feet, authorities said.
17 hours ago
(AP Photo/Susan Haigh, File)...
Danny Shapiro

Arizona passes $1 billion in total event wagering in third month of operation

It took Arizona just three months to clear $1 billion in total event wagering, according to a report released Tuesday from the state's gaming department.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Wide receivers John Brown #12 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona C...
Arizona Department of Gaming

The most memorable games in Arizona sports history every fan needs to know

Sports teams in Arizona have seen their fair share of instant classic games, but there's a few that every fan needs to know.
Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
COVID-19 pandemic causes Arizona to fall further behind on meeting key education goals