The Arizona Education Progress Meter has been updated with the most recent data for five of eight important metrics. In addition, process improvements have resulted in more robust data for the remaining indicators.
“The Education Progress Meter continues to be an important nonpartisan, shared source of information to inform where we stand and to help unify us around where we want to go as a state,” says Sybil Francis, PhD, president and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. “Trusted, reliable and useable data are critically important to our leaders and communities. This is especially true now as Arizonans work together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.”
This year, slight gains in the areas of high school graduation and opportunity youth are offset by dips in quality early learning and median teacher pay. Postsecondary attainment showed no change over the previous year. Updated data for 3rd grade reading and 8th grade math is unavailable because statewide assessments were not administered in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, improved data processes ensure that all students are included in the analysis, which allow for a much clearer picture of community-level data. In particular, the Education Progress Meter now offers more accurate numbers for rural Arizona and communities of color. The data improvements relate to 3rd grade reading, 8th grade math and high school graduation.
“Ongoing efforts to refine the Education Progress Meter data and share it in more meaningful ways is essential to our work and the work of our partners across the state,” says Erin Hart, senior vice president and chief impact officer for Expect More Arizona. “We know that to reach the broadly accepted statewide goals, it will take local communities leading the way, and this data is so valuable to those efforts.”
The widely accepted metrics were first launched in 2016 by Expect More Arizona and the Center for the Future of Arizona and have been updated annually. The Education Progress Meter has been used to frame state budget proposals, specific goals have been adopted by the State Board of Education and included in the state’s ESSA plan, embedded in school district strategic plans, used by funders to drive their investments, and adopted by nearly 50 cities and towns across the state.
Yet, while modest gains have been made in some areas, Arizona is not on track to reach the 2030 goals outlined in the Education Progress Meter. Getting there will require meaningful conversations about the opportunity gap that prevents many students from reaching their potential, thereby preventing Arizona from reaching its potential.
“There is broad agreement that attaining the shared goals in the Education Progress Meter will invigorate economic growth and unlock the potential of individuals and communities,” says Erin Hart. “Getting there means everyone working together toward solutions that significantly advance outcomes for all students. We also need predictable, consistent, and flexible investments that support the entire education continuum, early education through higher education.”