Thursday, March 5, 2015

Arizona Reading Standards By County For 3rd Graders

Almost all counties showed an increased percentage of students passing the assessment from 2010 to 2014. Over half of the counties in Arizona have a passing rate equal to or greater than 75%. Greenlee and Yavapai counties had the highest average passing rates, at 85% and 80% respectively. See Chart:of The percentage of Arizona students falling far below the state reading standards decreased in 14 out of 15 counties from 2010 to 2014. Across the state, an average of nearly 3% of all third graders are falling far below assessment standards, which means roughly 2,500 Arizona students would be at risk of retention in 2014.
Performance Levels by County


Building competent English Language Arts and Literacy skills creates a solid foundation upon which students build their future academic success. Reading proficiency by the third grade is a crucial measure of a child’s academic future and is a strong predictor of ninth grade course performance, high school graduation, and college and career readiness. According to the National Research Council for the National Academies, “Academic success, as defined by high school graduation, can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing someone’s reading skill at the end of third grade. A person who is not at least a moderately skilled reader by that time is unlikely to graduate from school.”

The Report Card’s analysis of student performance data on the statewide third grade reading assessment allows us to further comprehend how Arizona’s children are performing, how we can foster increased academic achievement, and ensure we are providing the best possible education to prepare our students for a bright, successful academic future. As part of its education reform plan, Arizona has set a goal of at least 94% of Arizona third graders passing the reading portion of the state assessment by 2020.


In 2012, Governor Brewer championed legislation that provided an additional $40 million in state funding to assist schools in reading proficiency rates among all Arizona students by the end of third grade. These measures are clearly paying off, paving the way for successful school literacy programs that ensure Arizona students are well prepared for their educational future.

In order to ensure that Arizona children are prepared to succeed in high school and beyond, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards in 2010 in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Mastery of these new standards will be measured by a more rigorous state assessment that will replace AIMS, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. In addition, data on student academic progress is now included in the reformed evaluation system for school leaders and teachers. These reforms are adding accountability into Arizona’s education system, which will hold our students, teachers, administrators, and schools accountable to higher standards in order to foster student growth and future success.


At a local level, Arizona school districts and charter schools can submit reading plans that center around proven best practices. In particular, districts and charters can focus on schools similar to their own that have made great gains, analyzing the reading programs and interventions that the successful schools have implemented, and putting these best practices to work within their own school systems. In addition, Arizona can consider ways to provide access to high-quality early literacy environments for at-risk children.

At a state level, policy makers can consider gradually raising the Move on When Reading bar. When Move on When Reading was established, the retention bar was set at falls far below; however, it is clear there are many students who score above this level who continue to struggle with reading. The state can also highlight and celebrate best practices at the local level. Finally, the state can coordinate and encourage the promotion of literacy throughout its agencies and partners, including: parks, libraries, First Things First, and local governments to promote early reading and literacy.

In addition, research shows that effective teachers and leaders are the largest in-school contributors to student learning and achievement. It is clear that no education reform initiative will be successful without highly effective teachers and school leaders. Therefore, the state should consider ways to attract and retain top-quality talent in Arizona’s education system.