Office of Education

Arizona Education Progress Meter

Expect More Arizona
Center for the Future of Arizona

Expect More Arizona and the Center for the Future of Arizona collaborated to create the Arizona Education Progress Meter, which elevates a set of widely accepted education indicators by which Arizonans can measure our state’s progress in education in Arizona from early childhood education through college and career. 

With data from the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, the Progress Meter utilizes the most current statistics available to create a simple, visual way to:

  • Set goals for education in Arizona
  • Assess the status of education, at the statewide level and for individual counties
  • View the data for individual schools through a partnership with the Education Evaluator
  • Celebrate stories of success of things that are working in education
  • Take action to support education


The Progress Meter represents an unprecedented collaboration of government agencies, nonprofits, education and business groups from around the state
, with more than 30 organizations signing on as endorsers. To view the complete list of supporters, visit ExpectMoreArizona.org/progress/about.

The indicators include the following eight data points, with information available at the state and county levels on most measures:

  • Attainment: % of Arizona residents 25-64 years of age who have completed a 2- or 4- year degree or received a post-secondary certificate.
  • Post High School Enrollment: % of Arizona high school graduates enrolled in post-secondary education the semester after graduating from high school.
  • Opportunity Youth: % of 16-24 year olds in Arizona that are NOT going to school or working.
  • High School Graduation Rate: % of Arizona high school students graduating in 4 years.
  • Eighth Grade Math: % of Arizona 8th grade students who are prepared to be successful in high school math.
  • Third Grade Reading: % of Arizona 3rd grade students proficient or highly proficient in reading on AzMERIT English language arts.
  • Quality Early Learning: % of Arizona 3- and 4- year old children that are in quality early learning settings.
  • Teacher Pay: Median Arizona teacher salary as compared to the national median teacher salary.

Over time, Expect More Arizona and the Center for the Future of Arizona will work with stakeholders to identify goals for the indicators. This process will begin with a post-secondary education attainment goal, including certificates, credentials and degrees, which is being developed through a task force convened by the Arizona Board of Regents.

It will take the cooperation of many diverse groups and individuals to create meaningful progress on these indicators. Ultimately, this will boost the quality of life for all Arizonans, since improved education outcomes lead to a more stable economy, lower crime rates and greater civic participation.

View a list of Progress Meter Endorsers Find out How Your School is Doing

Arizona Education Progress Meter

Attainment

By 2020, nearly 7 out of 10 of all jobs in Arizona will require more education after high school.

Postsecondary education means training or education after high school that leads to a certification, license or a degree. There are plenty of paths to get there…a technical institute, an apprenticeship, community college, university, or even military service.

But today there aren’t nearly enough adults in Arizona with the training or education beyond high school needed to support the economy we want.

There’s no silver bullet to closing this gap, but the first step is to support the goal for postsecondary attainment that exceeds the needs of our economy. States like Tennessee, Texas and Indiana have set such goals and we ought to do the same if we want to have a competitive edge.

If we can increase attainment in Arizona to 60 percent, it would pump more than $3.5 billion in personal income and tax revenue into the state annually. That revenue could do great things for our communities and our individual quality of life.

Arizona

Percent of residents have completed a 2- or 4 year degree, or received a non-degree credential. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 2014 1-year PUMS Person File and the Arizona Board of Regents estimate of the Arizona adult population 25-64 years of age with a certificate but no greater education award, 2016)
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38
41
26
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39
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36
21

Post High School Enrollment

Far too few Arizona students pursue education or advanced training after graduating from high school.

Arizona currently ranks near the bottom among all states in the percent of high school graduates who continue their education the year after completing high school.

Students who delay enrolling in training or education right after high school do so for a variety of reasons, but those who do delay are at greater risk of never receiving a degree or credential compared to students who enroll immediately after high school graduation.

While a job may certainly be an appealing alternative to paying for more education or training, studies show that not pursuing education or training after high school will cost an individual even more in lost earnings.

Just about any way you look at it – from how much you earn to how much you like your job – individuals with a degree or credential are better off than those without one.

Arizona

Percent 2014-15 Arizona high school graduates attend a postsecondary institution. (Arizona Board of Regents and National Center for Education Statistics)
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63
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Opportunity Youth

For young adults today, gaining some type of advantage is crucial to long-term success. Ideally, that “advantage” comes from some form of further education, training or work experience.

Unfortunately, there is a substantial number of Arizonan’s between the ages of 16 and 24 who aren’t enrolled in school or working.

As a result, these young people are cut off from the individuals, organizations, and experiences that would otherwise help them develop the knowledge, skills, maturity, and sense of purpose required to live rewarding lives as adults.

And the negative effects of youth disconnection weigh on our economy, justice system, and even the political landscape, which impacts all of us.

These young adults are less likely to be employed, more likely to rely on government support, they tend to show worse health conditions and are more likely to be involved in criminal activity; all costly situations for you, taxpayers and for society, both now and in the future.

Arizona

Percent of 16-24 year olds are NOT going to school or working. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 1-year PUMS Person File.)
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14
25
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17

High School Graduation Rate

Arizona graduation rates are below the national average and the achievement gap for some groups of students is even more alarming.

If Arizona wants to be one of the best states to grow up, live, work and raise a family, we have to focus on increasing the number of young adults graduating high school.

The potential economic impact of increasing our state’s four-year high school graduation rate is significant. On average, high school graduates earn $8,000 more annually compared to those who don’t finish high school. These young adults are far less likely to worry about unemployment, relying on government assistance, or ever step foot in our prison system.

Arizona

Percent of Arizona high school students graduate in 4 years. (Arizona Department of Education, 2015)
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80
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Eighth Grade Math

Chances are you use math a lot more than you think you do. Shopping, cooking, driving, and managing time and money all require a basic knowledge of numbers and math.

And critical thinking? Being able to think critically is essential to everyday living and it’s one of the most sought after skills by employers. And, believe it or not, it’s a skill that is strengthened by learning math.

Math best prepares and develops a child’s mind to accept, analyze and execute complex ideas. Success in math in 8th grade is a key milestone for students.

Math skills learned in elementary and middle school prepare them for more rigorous high school math and for success after school. Kids with strong math skills typically earn more money and are more likely to graduate from high school and college.

Today, only a small fraction of Arizona’s eighth graders have the math skills they need to be considered on track, and the gap is even more significant among minority and at-risk populations.

However, there is promising news. Data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show Arizona’s results ticked up slightly while many other states saw scores decline. NAEP reading and math tests are administered every other year and results focus on trends in data over time, as opposed to a snapshot from any one year. Compared to 2013 scores, Arizona students improved in 8th grade math. A particular point of good news is that Arizona has essentially closed the difference with the rest of the country in 8th grade math, with only one point separating our students from the national average.

Arizona

Percent of 8th grade students who took the 8th grade AZ Merit Test scored proficient or highly proficient. (Arizona Department of Education, 2015-16 AzMERIT results)
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13
23
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31
17
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26

Third Grade Reading

Reading is THE foundational skill for all future learning, and being able to read by the end of third grade is a crucial milestone in a child’s future academic success. Research shows that a child’s third grade reading level is a pretty strong predictor of how well a student performs in high school, whether or not they graduate, and if they go on to college.

Here’s another fact to consider. Many companies in the United States are having a really hard time finding qualified employees, and this is a problem that will become bigger and bigger as the economy grows.

How are these things connected? Well, research shows that reading is one of the most commonly and intensively used skills among all types of jobs across the U.S., even those jobs that don’t require training or education after high school.

There is promising news in Arizona, however. Data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show Arizona’s results ticked up slightly while many other states saw scores decline. NAEP reading and math tests are administered every other year and results focus on trends in data over time, as opposed to a snapshot from any one year. Compared to 2013 scores, Arizona students improved in 4th and 8th grade reading.

Arizona

Percent of third graders passed the AzMERIT English language arts test by scoring proficient or highly proficient. (Arizona Department of Education, 2015-16 AzMERIT results)
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Quality Early Learning

Children with access to quality early learning opportunities are more prepared for kindergarten. They have increased vocabulary, better language, math and social skills, and more positive relationships with classmates. And as they go forward in school and life, they are less likely to need special education services or be held back a grade, and are more likely to graduate and go on to college.

In fact, multiple studies show that quality pre-K programs generate a return on investment of seven (7) to ten (10) dollars for every dollar invested. The benefits to communities include decreased use of welfare and social services, remedial education, and job re-training.

Note: This indicator reflects the number of 3- and 4-year old children who are in high quality preschool settings. We recognize that the goal for this indicator will never be 100 percent, as some children are best served by their parents, families or friends and may not attend preschool. However, for those children who do attend preschool, our goals should be that they are attending high quality programs.

Arizona

Percent of 3 and 4 year olds are enrolled in preschool. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 1-year PUMS Person File. Definition: Preschool includes public, private or homeschool settings)
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58
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64
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Teacher Pay

High-quality teachers are the most influential factor to improve student achievement, yet Arizona faces a growing teacher shortage.

Arizona

Median Arizona elementary school teacher salary ($40,590) compared to national median ($54,120). (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau)
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75