Ducey's Project Rocket Has Roots In Avondale Elementary School District's Success

By Katie Campbell
Published: Friday, January 24, 2020 - 1:13pm
Updated: Saturday, January 25, 2020 - 12:29am

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Betsy Hargrove
Avondale Elementary School District
Avondale Elementary School District Superintendent Betsy Hargrove with a student.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey included $44 million in his executive budget proposal for a pilot education program he’s calling Project Rocket.

The program is geared toward low-performing schools with a high number of students living in poverty. It also provides $150-per-student grants to close the achievement gap at those schools.

The program got its start in the Avondale Elementary School District as GEARS — Growing Educators, Achieving Results with Students. The state invested more than $500,000 to allow the district to enter a public-private partnership dubbed Project Momentum.

The additional dollars allowed the district to provide professional development to teachers, and while that may sound like a simple step, the results were significant. Before GEARS, the district did not have any A-rated schools. Today, four schools have earned an A and a fifth is almost there.

Avondale Superintendent Betsy Hargrove joined The Show to talk about just how much her district has changed.

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