One data point does not a student make.

AzMERIT results are out.

The newspapers are publishing results, schools are planning award assemblies, and parents are sticking reports on their refrigerators.

However, students are more than a single percentage on a test. We are all complicit in overemphasizing the importance of a single test to define the quality of schools, teachers, and student learning. Let’s elevate what really matters in public education.

When you were a fourth grader, did you care how many of the kids in your school exceeded the state test? Definitely not. You cared if your teacher was kind, funny, or creative. You cared about learning new things. You cared about doing interesting projects with friends and participating in after-school clubs. You cared about your school community. That is what is paramount in a school. That is what we should be printing on banners and sending out in press releases.

Imagine driving your own fourth grader up to her school with a banner hanging over the door that says, “100% of our kids create solutions to difficult problems.” Wouldn’t that be a better message?

As the Maricopa County School Superintendent, I commit to discuss, support, and celebrate what really matters.

So here’s to the teachers that are funny, kind, or creative. Here’s to the teachers that teach our kids to read and multiply. Here's to the teachers that model good citizenship and inspire future leaders. And most importantly, here’s to the teachers that dedicate their lives to educating all kids, regardless of zip code, family situation, or socioeconomic status.

Join me in celebrating our teachers for all of the things that really matter in the education of a child. Not just one success - on one test - once a year.

Maricopa County Leading the Nation in STEM Education Opportunities

In 2008, Google pulled out of Phoenix. Rumors circulated that it was due to a lack of qualified engineers. Whether this was true or not, it signaled a wave of deep concern about the quality of education in our communities. In 2011, former Intel CEO Craig Barrett stated that if Intel was looking for a location to expand its operations, Arizona would not be in the top ten choices because of the quality of education.
 
Six years later, the story is changing. Maricopa County is now being acknowledged by nationwide education groups as a leader in science, technology, education, and math (STEM) education.
 
The transformation began with a statewide initiative instigated by the Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA) and Science Foundation Arizona. Together, the agencies led the development of the STEM Immersion Guide, a road map for schools to increase the quality and quantity of STEM instruction. The guide was adopted by schools throughout Arizona and the country. Due to the focus of MCESA and its partners, some of the greatest uses of the tool and subsequent increases in STEM programming are being seen right here in Maricopa County.
 
As the Maricopa County School Superintendent, I am proud to lead the organization that is leading this significant change. We have expanded our supports from planning for STEM instruction to developing STEM school leaders, supporting STEM teachers, and creating award-winning STEM instruction for students.
 
The most significant aspect of this transformation is STEM education is not isolated to traditionally affluent communities. Families in the farming community of Buckeye, the professional suburb of Surprise, the working-class community of Laveen, and the inner-city of Phoenix all have STEM education options. One of the most exciting examples of STEM instruction is being showcased at a rural, high-poverty school a hundred miles from metro Phoenix. Education opportunities up-to-now only available to students in North Scottsdale and the East Valley are becoming more and more available to all citizens of Maricopa County. By leveraging the power of videoconferencing for professional development and virtually connecting STEM professionals to classrooms, all schools in Maricopa County can take advantage of great STEM education opportunities.
 
I have just begun my service as Maricopa County School Superintendent. Over the next four years, I am confident that Maricopa County will be held-up as a model in the nation for school choice and STEM school opportunities, regardless of zip code.