TopMarch 2014
In This Issue
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Do you Have Student Loans?
Teachers May be Eligible for Loan Cancellation or Forgiveness
If you are a teacher who meets a set of eligibility requirements, including teaching in certain shortage areas or at a designated low-income school, you may qualify for a program offered by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) that can relieve some or all of your student loan debt (program applies to direct, Stafford, and Perkins loans).
For more information on this opportunity, please visit the USED program website. If you have questions about your application, eligibility, or qualifications, you can contact the U.S. Department of Education's Student Aid Office at
1-800-433-3243 or speak directly with your lender.
Public Comment Sought for E-Rate Reform
Comments Due to FCC by April 7, 2014
The FCC released a Public Notice to launch the next phase of E-Rate reform on Thursday March 6, 2014.
The Notice seeks to strengthen the FCC record on four issues:
(1) how to best structure the program with greater focus on connectivity inside the walls of classrooms and libraries;
(2) whether and how to establish a one-time deployment initiative within the structure of the existing program, providing targeted additional funding for those schools and libraries which still do not have access to high-speed broadband;
(3) phasing out or reducing support for legacy voice services; and
(4) collecting and presenting ideas on potential demonstration projects.
The Notice is available here, and a related blog post from the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Chief can be accessed at this link
A Message from Superintendent Huppenthal
Dear Education Stakeholder,  

Serving as Superintendent of Public Instruction is one of the greatest honors of my life.  Recently, my commitment to public education came into question because of my public support of the state's Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. What I recently discovered is there are many misconceptions about ESAs and their role in our public school system. While many people feel that this program was created to dismantle public schools, I can assure you this is not the case and ESAs serve very specific groups of students. In fact, of Arizona's 1.1 million students, after three years just 692 are currently being served by this program. This is only 0.3% of our student population and many of those participating have multiple disabilities. This program is literally a lifeline for them and their families. I want to assure you that ADE staff carefully manage, monitor and regulate this program to ensure its role within our system honors its intended objective, which is to assist students who are unable to be served by traditional public schools.

As I have done throughout my tenure as Superintendent, I was recently on the road visiting schools. My travels through Yavapai County brought me to public schools, small and large. It is always such an honor to visit classrooms and meet with educators. My thanks and appreciation for exceptional hospitality goes out to:
  • Congress Elementary School
  • Yarnell's Model Creek Elementary School
  • Skull Valley Elementary School
  • Mountain Institute JTED
  • Prescott High School
  • Bradshaw Mountain High School
  • Glassford Hill Middle School
  • Cottonwood's Daniel Bright High School
  • Mingus High School
  • Camp Verde Elementary and High School
Finally, I encourage you to read the information contained in the "Assessment Update" section of this newsletter. There are two important processes taking place relating to assessments in this state. First, the State Board of Education is preparing to identify a new assessment to replace the AIMS test. And second, field testing will be taking place this spring for the PARCC assessment. We want to ensure educators have the most accurate information as it relates to these two important topics and I encourage you to talk with your administration or ADE staff should you have questions.


In closing, I want to once again thank you for your service. Educating our future generations is a challenging calling and I am honored to be your Superintendent. I truly appreciate all that you do.




John Huppenthal

Superintendent of Public Instruction


Assessment Update
State Board Proceeding with RFP for New State Assessment

The State Board of Education is dedicated to selecting a new statewide assessment best aligned with Arizona's values and needs. To that end, the Board is considering a statement of values to be addressed by Arizona's new assessment - values identified during substantial public engagement. These values will be translated into the critical requirements for the Request for Proposals (RFP).


In order to have the new statewide assessment in place for the 2014-15 School Year, the Board expects to issue the RFP for the selection of the new statewide assessment in Spring 2014, and intends to complete the procurement process in Summer 2014.


The Board has launched a web page with information about the Request for Proposal Process that includes responses to a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the Board in late 2013. You can visit the page at

Field Testing for Next-Generation Assessment to take Place this Spring

Arizona is among a group of leading states that are in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Consortium. As a member state, our educators are helping to develop next-generation, computer-based tests in math, reading, and writing that are of exceptional quality and will measure students' content knowledge and key skills, such as their ability to think critically, solve problems, and use information from what they read to write well-developed essays.


In the spring of 2014, PARCC will be conducting field tests around the country. Many of Arizona's schools have agreed to be involved in this important process. Most students participating in the field test will only take one part of the whole assessment in one content area to minimize time taken from the classroom for individual students and schools.


This is a chance for those developing the assessment to "test the test" and to make sure the tablets, laptops and desktop computers most students will use for the test work properly. Students will get a chance to engage in challenging math or English problems and writing exercises, but since the focus of the field test is not on measuring student achievement, no student scores will be provided. By taking part in the field tests, teachers and students will play an important role in the development of next-generation, innovative tests.
We anticipate nearly 35,000 students will take either the English/Language Arts component or Mathematics component online while nearly 19,000 will take a paper-based version.
Opportunities for Students
Imperial Trans-Antarctic Centenary Expedition 2014 (ITACE)

This unique program introduces teachers and students to the historical significance of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 expedition, in which he intended to cross Antarctica for the first time. Shackleton departed London in 1914 on the vessel Endurance. Before reaching the intended landing spot in Antarctica, Endurance was crushed by ice and sank, but everyone onboard survived and persevered during a seven-month struggle to reach civilization. 


ITACE represents the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-17 expedition. Throughout October and November of 2014, the five world class skiers who make up the ITACE 2014 team will honor the memory of the original expedition by completing Shackleton's intended route across the frozen continent of Antarctica, a 1,800-mile journey. You can follow the ITACE 2014 team on their journey and learn about Shackleton's expedition at
Arbor Day Art Contest

The Arizona State Forestry Division is celebrating Arbor Day by sponsoring an Art Contest with prizes. Details are still being developed, but it is anticipated that the artwork will be displayed the week of Arbor Day in the State Capitol Rotunda with an Arbor Day celebration in Wesley Bolin Plaza on Arbor Day, Friday, April 25.


To find more information on how to get students involved in the Arbor Day Art Contest, please visit the Forestry Division's website: Details will be posted on the Forestry Division's website the first week of March.


Wildfire Prevention Poster Contest

March 30 through April 5 is Wildfire Prevention Week! Please join the Arizona State Forestry Division in spreading the message about preventing wildland fires in Arizona with a poster contest for 6th-8th graders. Our objectives are to educate Arizona's youth on ways to reduce wildland fires and be safe with fire, and to utilize the ideas and messages from the poster contest participants in future fire prevention programs in Arizona.


This year's theme is "How we live. Where we live. Living with wildfire in Arizona." Contest rules and submittal information can be downloaded from the Arizona State Forestry website at You may also email Carrie Dennett at for more information.
Law Day Essay and Art Contest
The Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County is celebrating Law Day 2014 by hosting an essay and art competition for 11th and 12th grade students in Maricopa County. To honor the 800-year anniversary of the Magna Carta, each student may submit an essay and/or piece of artwork that illustrates the current relevance of the historical document. 


Winners will be awarded a certificate and a copy of Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215 - 2015. They will be invited to attend an award ceremony on Law Day, May 1, 2013 in the ceremonial courtroom from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Old Courthouse at 125 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003. 


All entries must be submitted to The deadline for entries is no later than 5:00 p.m. on April 1, 2014. Click here for complete rules.


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Success Stories
Alchesay High School Using Project Based Learning to Bring STEM Alive
Located in the beautifully forested White Mountains, Whiteriver Unified School District's Alchesay High School has made a commitment to work with all of its community stakeholders to improve the academic performance of its students while exposing them to amazing opportunities both on the reservation and across the country.
The school has partnered with the White Mountain Apache Tribe to develop student interest in careers focused on several of the region's upcoming economic developments, including the Rural Water System Project and the reopening of timber operations. Those projects alone include the construction of a dam, a 60 mile pipeline, and potentially a bio-fuel plant.
Related campus activities have included STEM questions of the week, a trebuchet project (Pumpkin Chunkin'), a scale model of the Water Pipeline, a rocket project, robotics and 20 paid internships with the Tribal Planning offices for juniors and seniors.
Proud Alchesay principal Rick Swearengin Jr. notes that his school's staff and students have marched forward through obstacles and unforeseen roadblocks to build on their successes, always striving to make improvements and to find new innovative ways to reach their goal of college and career readiness for all students.
AZ DECA State Officers Visit the Capitol for the Legislature's Opening Day
Earlier this year, several state officers for AZ DECA (a marketing organization for students) had an exciting opportunity to participate in the Arizona legislature's opening day ceremonies. Upon their arrival at the State Capitol, Representative Heather Carter greeted the students and brought them down to the House floor for photos before the session began. While there, Representative Doug Coleman joined them as they began to discuss why they were visiting the Capitol.
The discussion focused on the necessity for CTE programs to be fully funded, and as the conversation moved forward many other state representatives passed through the room on their way to the session and exchanged introductions with the students.
As the session began, Representative Carter was gracious enough to introduce AZ DECA in the gallery by name and ask her colleagues to support the funding for their important programs across the state. Overall, the Officers had a great time and Representative Carter mentioned that they had inspired many other House members to become more involved with their local DECA chapters.


You can view the video of the students being introduced here (starting at 3:10). For more information on AZ DECA, please visit


Special thanks to AZ DECA State Vice President Kyle Kuo for submitting this article.

Arizona Educator Asked to Take Part in Inaugural NAEP Committee of Principals
ADE is proud to announce that Carol Lippert, Principal at Washington High School in Phoenix, has been  asked to participate as a member in the inaugural standing committee of principals for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation's Report Card.
This panel of distinguished principals will meet with experts from NAEP and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in Washington, D.C. to share their expertise and give advice on critical issues for NAEP. As a leader at her school and educational community, we are sure that Carol will do an excellent job representing Arizona. Many congratulations to Carol on this outstanding achievement!
For more information about NAEP and the Nation's Report Card, visit
Upcoming Conferences

Arizona Department of Education Hosting Civic Learning Conference

Come together with K-12 teachers and leaders from across the state on April 25, 2014 at the Black Canyon Conference Center in Phoenix to discuss how Arizona can prepare its students to be informed and engaged citizens. 


Highlights include:

  • Keynote speaker Gerda Weissmann Klein, 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Holocaust survivor, Citizenship Counts founder, and proud naturalized citizen
  • Guest speaker John Huppenthal, Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony
  • Highly interactive sessions aligned to Arizona's College and Career Ready Standards presented by teachers, leaders and experts in civic education
  • 8 hours of professional development for attendees

To learn more about this conference and to register please visit or contact Deb Payne at (602) 542-3034. 

Ninth Annual Great Arizona Teach-In Scheduled for May 3, 2014

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) invites you to participate in our Ninth Annual Great Arizona Teach-In on Saturday, May 3, 2014. This career fair is offered exclusively to Arizona school districts and charter schools. Be an exhibitor and enhance your recruitment efforts to fill your certified and classified vacant positions.


This year's Teach-In will be held at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel Conference Center. This venue offers booths for all exhibitors and also has numerous interview spaces available, all of which are easily accessible for use throughout the day. This nationally advertised event draws approximately 900 Arizona and out-of-state candidates every year. During last year's event, recruiters conducted more than 500 interviews and issued 133 letters of intent. Schools and districts exhibiting at this event have greatly increased their success in finding highly qualified and highly effective candidates to join their staff.


To help candidates fulfill your hiring requirements, we offer "one stop" assistance at the Great Arizona Teach-In. Arizona Department of Education personnel from the Highly Effective Teachers and Leaders and Certification Units are available to answer questions and issue certificates. Fingerprinting and résumé review services are also available throughout the event.


To register for the Teach-In, simply visit  and follow the prompts for exhibitors. If you need assistance or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Tracy Faulkner by phone at 602-364-2195 or by email at


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March 2014 Calendar of Events




FFA: State Award Selection Day (Phoenix)


From Keys To Literacy by Joan Sedita - The Key Comprehension Routine for Primary Grades K-3 (Phoenix)


Educators Evaluating Quality Instructional Products (EQuIP Rubric) - English Language Arts (Phoenix)


Educators Evaluating Quality Instructional Products (EQuIP Rubric) - Mathematics (Phoenix)


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ADE Office of Communications Staff

Jennifer Liewer, Director of Communications

Ashley Dammen, Communications Officer

Charles Tack, Electronic Communications Manager