The Pandemic’s Effects on P-20 Education
The data show that the COVID pandemic has had significant effects on every part of the education continuum, from early education to K-12 and postsecondary education.
Notably, new data show a decline in access to quality early learning for Arizona 3- and 4-year-olds from 19% last year to 17% this year, contributing to a three-year downward trend from a high of 24%. The decrease is largely a result of the pandemic when many providers closed or limited capacity and the loss of the federal Preschool Development Grant. Early learning opportunities, such as PreK are important because they give children the opportunity to build their cognitive, social and emotional skills so they are ready to learn in kindergarten and able to read at grade level by the end of third grade.
Arizona Education Progress Meter Updates
The data also show significant drops in 3rd grade reading (11 percentage points) and 8th grade math (14 percentage points), high school graduation rates (1 percentage point), and post high school enrollment (7 percentage points) because of the pandemic.
|Quality Early Learning||19%||17%||45%|
|3rd Grade Reading||46%||35%||72%|
|8th Grade Math||41%||27%||69%|
|High School Graduation||79%||78%||90%|
|Post High School Enrollment||53%||46%||70%|
Data are available for most of the indicators at the state, county, city, school district and school level for multiple groups of students at EducationForwardArizona.org/Progress/.
New Data Available on Post High School Enrollment
Additionally, for the first time the Arizona Education Progress Meter includes more detailed data on post high school enrollment. Through a partnership with the Arizona Board of Regents, additional data were added at the county, city, school district and school level, and for specific groups of students, including students with disabilities.
“Education consistently tops the chart on issues that matter to Arizonans and our 2020 Gallup Arizona Survey reinforced this priority,” said Dr. Sybil Francis, president and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. “We know the pandemic has disrupted teaching and learning, but the latest data are troubling; however, it’s critical we have the information to know where we are and where to focus our efforts. We must address unfinished learning and ensure excellence and equity in our education system, which will continue to be a multi-year effort requiring a long-term commitment to sustainable positive change.”
“The pandemic has had a marked impact on our entire education community, especially to our most disadvantaged students,” said Rich Nickel, president and CEO of Education Forward Arizona. “It’s up to all of us as business, education, policy, and community leaders to come together to create a set of concrete steps to meet the goals in the Education Progress Meter and advocate for the funding to support our students with the greatest needs. Meeting the goals is going to be a challenge, but is possible if we focus on supporting our students and educators throughout the entire P-20 continuum.”
Next Steps & 2022 Legislative Priorities
The Arizona Education Progress Meter has served as a tool for policymakers, business leaders, civic leaders, and educators across the state to discuss where we stand as a state and what it will take to meet the goals in the future. Education Forward Arizona and the Center for the Future of Arizona will be convening business, education and community leaders to discuss our next steps forward to address how to best support students amidst the pandemic and ultimately meet the goals in the Education Progress Meter.
Additionally, during this legislative session we will be advocating for the following four priorities to advance the goals in the Arizona Education Progress Meter:
- Expanding access to quality early learning, with a focus on serving children who are most in need, and support strategies that advance early literacy development
- Promoting strategies that encourage attraction and retention of educators across the P-20 continuum
- Increasing opportunities for students and adults to access and complete a postsecondary degree or credential, including increasing access to dual enrollment and expanding the Arizona Promise Program.
- Protecting and increasing P-20 education funding, with a focus on providing additional supports to students who are most in need, including a short- and long-term solution to the Aggregate Expenditure Limit.
We need your help to advocate for the policies and funding that will move education forward. During the legislative session, we’ll give you opportunities to learn about Arizona’s most pressing education issues and will send you action alerts so you can support students and educators in early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education. We can’t do this work without you!