PHOENIX – Governor Ducey spoke on the “value of public-philanthropic partnerships” at the groundbreaking of the new Helios Education Foundation campus in Phoenix. The new building is expected to house the collective of several Helios Education Foundation initiatives related to high-quality early learning, recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers, rigorous, college-going curriculum, career skill preparedness and postsecondary attainment. Co-location of many of the non-profit organizations that partner with Helios Education Foundation is critical as the new campus serves as a gathering place for thought leadership and collaboration among all level of policymakers engaged in education policy development.
“My office has no greater partner and collaborator than Helios Education Foundation,” said Governor Ducey. “Helios has worked hand-in-hand with us in the development and implementation of several breakthrough efforts that are transforming the education landscape in Arizona, such as Achieve60AZ, Great Schools, Great Leaders, College Knowing and Going and now the K-3 Quality Initiative.”
The K-3 Quality Initiative Project is a joint partnership between the Office of the Governor and Helios Education Foundation, with technical assistance through the Education Commission of the States. The Arizona K-3 Quality Initiative Plan will result in a K-3 Quality framework that responsibly allows Arizona to increase 3rd grade reading cut scores to actual proficiency level. The framework will recommend the quality systems, prioritized policy levers, public engagement and branding needed to focus the public’s attention on the necessity of increasing early literacy outcomes. This initiative is directly related to the Arizona Education Progress Meter indicators for 3rd grade reading proficiency and the state’s postsecondary attainment goal, or Achieve60Az. 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 better prepared for college and career and eventually postsecondary success.
“We are pleased to partner with the Governor’s Office on the K-3 Quality Initiative,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. “Ensuring all children have access to high-quality early learning experiences in the early grades is critical to later academic success. The fact that Arizona was selected by the Education Commission on the States to participate in this effort is a testament to the work that has been done throughout our state to elevate early childhood issues and we hope this initiative will build on that momentum and create a strong strategic plan for our state.
The K-3 Quality Initiative is comprised of a strategic team of key stakeholders from the Arizona Department of Education, Read On Arizona, Expect More AZ, First Things First, and the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, also representing the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance. Additional team members will be added as the K-3 Quality Initiative work moves forward.