2012-13 Arizona EXPLORE Initiative, is an effort that began two years ago through a partnership between the Governor’s Office of Education Innovation and Northern Arizona University (NAU).
Under the Initiative, eighth grade students take ACT’s EXPLORE assessment, an early indicator of college readiness, and ‘explore’ the world of opportunities open to them in high school and beyond. During 2011-12, more than 31,000 eighth graders in 233 public schools across the state not only took the EXPLORE, but participated in meaningful activities with their families to understand and use their EXPLORE results to prepare a pre-high school Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP). Additionally, participating school administrators and staff received professional development on use of the EXPLORE data to modify curricula and teaching strategies to improve student achievement and school performance.
A new seven-year GEAR UP grant recently awarded to NAU, now builds on this success, making the EXPLORE initiative in Arizona possible for the next several years. Under the 2012-18 Arizona EXPLORE Middle-Grade Initiative, participation in the Initiative still includes using assessment results to benefit students and families, but the new Initiative also brings an emphasis on achieving, by 2018, a substantial increase in the number of eighth graders in the State who begin their high school careers on track, academically, to succeed in college or career upon graduation.