Arizona K-3 Quality Initiative
"This initiative helps kids struggling with issues during early childhood and is making sure that more Arizona children have the ability to read by third grade. We know that early literacy is critical for achievement in the classroom early on, just as it’s also a strong predictor of high school graduation and college attendance."
Governor Ducey, September 27, 2017
The K-3 Quality Initiative Project is a joint partnership between the Arizona Office of the Governor and the Helios Education Foundation. Arizona is one of only 15 states that require retention for students that are not reading at grade-level by the end of third grade. "Move on When Reading" has been in place for over three years. There are limited exceptions for non-English speakers and special education students, including children with the diagnosis of dyslexia. The Legislature has appropriated over $50 million for K-3 reading and in 2017, the Governor recommended and received $20 million over two years to focus on literacy in grades K-3.
The Arizona K-3 Quality Initiative Plan will create a K-3 Quality framework that responsibly allows Arizona to increase 3rd grade reading cut scores to actual proficiency level. The framework will provide the quality systems, funding, and public engagement and branding needed to focus the public's attention on the necessity of increasing early literacy outcomes. Additionally, the work of this project, 3rd grade proficiency, is directly related to Arizona's postsecondary attainment goal. Students who have met the benchmark to "read to learn" will stand a better chance as they progress through the remainder of their K-12 education, and with grade-level literacy, will be prepared for college or career.
State Leaders & Early Ed Experts Collaborate on Strenthening K-3 Policies
In late September, we hosted the K-3 State Policy Academy, bringing together state teams, partners and other experts in the early education field to develop short- and long-term K-3 goals for each state, and an action plan to achieve them. Attendees also collaborated to learn from their experiences supporting K-3 policies and third-grade reading proficiency. Teams came from four states — Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts and Mississippi — where we provide extensive, collaborative technical assistance to help strengthen early learning in their states.
To guide this peer-to-peer learning exchange and action-planning, we facilitated discussions within each state team on alignment across the P-3 continuum, workforce development and leadership, curriculum, instruction and assessments, and policies to leverage K-3 reform at scale.
K-3 Policymaker's Guide to Action: Making the Early Years Count
Of the 2.5 million students who dropped out of high school in 2015, 1.6 million were firmly set on that trajectory when they were just 8 years old. What did those 8-year-old students have in
common? They received the lowest reading scores on the third-grade literacy exam. A student's ability to meet grade-level expectations in third grade plays a significant role in the likelihood of them graduating high school. A third-grade student who reads proficiently is four times more likely to graduate from high school than a third grader reading below grade level.4
The preschool through third-grade years are foundational in a child 's journey towards lifelong learning. Developmentally, these early elementary years are when children best acquire the academic and non-academic skills on which long-lasting educational success depends. As a result, experts argue that meaningful improvements in student academic outcomes, increases in graduation rates and the success of students later in life depend on improving the quality of the educational foundation provided by a quality kindergarten through third-grade (K-3) continuum.