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What is a Standiversary?
(Hint: We had one this summer!)

Schools in Arizona are ramping back up, after a hot summer break. But here at Stand for Children, we never slowed down. Why didn’t we slow down, you ask? Because of superstars like Liliana Hutcheson.

In this edition of In the Trenches, we are celebrating Lili’s 10th anniversary at Stand! We call them Standiversaries!

Lili spent this summer hosting engaging workshops, combating summer learning loss, and training parent leaders across the Valley. After 10 years supporting parents, she’s more committed than ever to using the most up to date research such as the importance of combating summer learning loss, or the “summer slide.

Lili helped open the Stand Arizona office in 2009 and has been helping families ever since. She’s played an instrumental role in all the affiliate’s accomplishments – from winning elections to passing English Language Learner reform legislation earlier this year. Most often, you’ll find her training team leaders, and helping parents and students through our after-school tutoring programs and reading challenges.

If you haven’t met Lili, you probably know someone who has. She’s trained over 4,000 parents, and currently has almost 1,000 parents in her “power base.” (A fancy Stand term for her network of parents that are engaging on education issues with Stand.)

She is one of the hardest working family engagement leaders in the nation. And her work this summer proves it. In partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way she trained parents about how important it is for students to stay mentally active over the summer and gave them tools to support reading and academic activities. She helped them get ready for “back to school," have a plan to get to school on time every day, and have all the supplies they need.

Earlier this year, Lili helped organize an amazing inaugural Stand Day at the Capitol with about 130 participants from multiple school districts – even though the goal was just 75. The sea of blue shirts meant everyone knew Stand Arizona was in the house!

We are so incredibly grateful to her and inspired by her. Here is what some of our parent members say about her:

“Lili gave me the courage to speak up,” said Lucy Maldonado, a parent member. “I was so nervous about meeting with our school principal, but I also knew that we had a bold plan to launch a parent-led tutoring program. Because of Lili and her trainings, we met with the principal and launched the program shortly after. It was an amazing experience, and I would never change it for anything else.”

Carmen Toro said, “I had never been to the Capitol before. I was nervous about how things would go. But Lili made feel at ease and was very knowledgeable about the legislative process.”

Lili’s commitment and passion for all children getting a great education is why she is such an amazing part of our team. Now, she’s helping tackle one of the biggest issues facing our state: Arizona’s reading crisis. There is good news and bad news in this crisis.

Right now, only 46% of our students are hitting the literacy mark. Recent findings show that Arizona's state test scores are improving, but only by a few percentage points.

Reading rates go up, slightly

Before mentioning the scores themselves, we have to acknowledge that a lot of work has been done to try to turn things around. According to one study, the increase is due to “state-supported initiatives and legislation, such as a focus on struggling readers.”

Now, based on the latest AzMERIT reading test, 52% of 3rd graders failed the reading portion of the test. That means that only 48% passed the portion.

While it’s not okay that half of the kids in our state are failing reading at the end of third grade — there is both good news and bad news.

First, the good news: Arizona's state test scores are improving, but only by a few percentage points — an increase of two points from last year.

While our ultimate goal is for 100% of students to be reading on grade level, public education groups and supporters have created a Progress Meter to break down that ultimate goal into attainable milestones. The goal right now is for 72% of our 3rd graders to read proficiently by 2030.

So, what’s the bad news? At this rate, we aren’t going to meet that goal.

But that doesn’t mean we should give up. We have a lot of the tools necessary for reform in place, and momentum is building.

Our take-away is this: We can’t take our foot off the gas. We can’t get distracted by the next “big thing.” We need to continue to invest in early literacy and make sure that the English Language Learner reforms are in place and are actually helping students.

Congratulations to everyone that has been working so hard to turn this around. Keep up the good work!

Read the full article here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s In The Trenches. Summer is winding down, but we’re busy still working in the community. In the coming weeks, we’ll keep you posted on upcoming projects and ways that you can help. If you have any questions, let us know.

Warmly, 

Rebecca, Stacey, Martin, Liliana, Katherine, Blythe, and Georgina
The Stand for Children Arizona Team

 

Stand for Children is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability.

In order to fulfill our mission, Stand for Children, Inc., our 501(c)4 organization, performs all advocacy and lobbying activities while the Stand for Children Leadership Center, our 501(c)3 organization, manages our parent and family education and engagement programs as well as Stand’s public awareness campaigns.
 
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