Arizona Invests in Student and Teacher Support to Enable Learning

State Strategy & Vision

It is well understood that the pandemic has created difficult conditions for both students and teachers, making it harder to teach and learn. The Arizona Department of Education is spending relief funds on big bets that provide support for new teachers and address student technology and social and emotional needs. These investments are designed to address difficult conditions for students and teachers and create a better environment for learning in Arizona’s schools.

Why We Like It

Acknowledging and addressing the added stress of the pandemic on students and teachers, while also ensuring that schools are doing whatever they can do to address lost learning time, is a tricky balance. ADE is making significant investments that will hopefully help to overcome the new and significant obstacles in the way of learning, empowering K-12 schools to catch students up from lost time in the classroom.

Arizona DOE is investing in strategies that will restore conditions for learning in its public schools.

What They Did

Arizona Department of Education leaders used federal pandemic relief funds to create the conditions in which learning will be possible. The agency recognized that school closures and the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 created a great deal of stress for both students and teachers. The biggest investment the state has made is $21.3 million to fund school counselors and social workers at around 141 schools. These counselors and social workers are in addition to approximately 260 social and emotional support professionals that the state already funds, and allows the state to provide these critical staff to schools that until now were on the waitlist.

ADE is also spending $3 million to establish the Office of Digital Teaching and Learning. The goal of this office is for all of Arizona’s K-12 schools and 95% of households of students attending K-12 schools to have access to a device and sufficient connectivity for technology to facilitate learning at home.

Third, ADE is using $5 million to launch the Arizona Teacher Residency program and $2.5 million for new teacher induction and mentoring in partnership with Northern Arizona University and the Arizona K-12 Center. The agency recognized that teachers leaving the profession would need to be replaced by teachers even more prepared to adjust to the challenges of the pandemic and its effect on students.

About the Author

Chad Aldeman is a nationally recognized expert on education policy, including school finance; teacher preparation, evaluation, and compensation; and state standards, assessment, and accountability. Keep up with Chad on the EduProgess: Unpacked blog.