Helios Education Foundation and Arizona Governor’s Office Working to Increase K-3 Literacy 

Author: Helios Education Foundation

August 16, 2018

Recently, Arizona’s education goals and strong education partnerships were featured at the Education Commission of the States, 2018 National Forum on Education Policy.  Janice Palmer, Helios’ Vice President and Director of Policy, joined Dawn Wallace, Governor Ducey’s Senior Advisor, Education and Strategic Initiatives, in presenting how Arizona is utilizing public-private partnerships to improve educational outcomes for all Arizona students. 

The session highlighted the important role that philanthropy can play in assisting the work of state government through public-private partnerships. These partnerships can include community investment demonstration projects, thought leadership, and research. One of Arizona’s public-private partnerships focuses on increasing early literacy in the state and is a partnership between Governor Ducey’s Office, Helios Education Foundation and the Education Commission of the States. Through this partnership, Arizona has developed a strategic plan that will improve the academic experience of children in the early grades to help ensure they are on a path toward reading proficiency by the end of third grade.  

“Ultimately, the K-3 Quality Initiative is about building on the great work many groups across Arizona have been doing and creating a single strategic plan to increase the effectiveness of education policies and practice,”  said Janice Palmer, Vice President and Director of Policy at Helios Education Foundation.  “This will help ensure young children develop strong literacy skills which are the foundation for future academic success.”

This strategic plan is helping to align the state’s current early childhood plan with best practices and effective policy recommendations from the Education Commission of the States.  Some of these policies include:  quality full-day Kindergarten; alignment between standards, curriculum, instruction, assessment and school accountability; increasing mandatory attendance, decreasing chronic absenteeism, and supporting workforce development.

One of the most actionable pieces of the plan is driving Arizona to increase third grade reading cut scores to actual proficiency level.  This is a critical and necessary step to ensuring children have the academic foundation to succeed at the higher grade levels.

“This has been a significant priority for Governor Ducey,” said Dawn Wallace, Senior Advisor for Education & Strategic Initiatives, Governor Doug Ducey.  “We are grateful for all of the work being done by the education community including the Arizona Department of Education and community organizations such as Read On Arizona, First Things First, Expect More Arizona, the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance and the Arizona Grantmakers Forum to help move this work forward.”

The K-3 Quality Initiative is one of many public-private partnerships that the Arizona Governor’s Office has initiated to increase outcomes for Arizona students.  Click here to learn more.  

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