New Arizona Standards?

Activists on the ground are calling the new Arizona standards just approved by the Arizona State Board of Education a rebranding of Common Core.

They are also concerned about the lack of transparency since they had the understanding there would be another month to review standards.

The Common Core has been revised in Arizona, and unfortunately whenever Common Core is the starting point for new standards what you will get is a rebranding. That’s not to say there are not significant changes, as there were with New York’s rewrite. Unfortunately New York’s changes appear to be more comprehensive than what we see in Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reports about some of the changes:

Cursive writing appears to be the biggest change in terms of what things kids will be required to learn. There’s been unanimous support for making cursive writing a requirement.

Beyond that, many of the revisions had to do with changing the phrasing of the actual standards that, while unassuming to the average person, are meant to give teachers more freedom over how to teach their students.

Some phrases that appear to instruct teachers how to teach a certain standard were changed. As were phrasings that appeared too vague or unclear.

For example, one phrase in the first-grade reading standards that said students should know how to ask and answer questions about key details in a text was expanded to include the “who, what, when, why and how about key details in a text.”

Educators who worked on the revisions said parts of them have been restructured so that parents can clearly see how the reading and math skills learned in one grade are expanded on in the next.

The revisions will be reflected on AzMERIT, the state’s standardized test, in 2018.

Most of the actual requirements in the standards remain unchanged.

Standards to learn time and money, the high school standards are ordered differently to reflect Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. There are also additional standards added to the high school standards that are not required for graduation so I assume they will not end up on AZMerit.

So there has been some technical changes, but as far as I can see most of the foundational problems still exist. The early elementary standards are still age-inappropriate. There is still an over emphasis on informational text. The math standards still do not adequately prepare students for STEM programs in college.

It’s unfortunate that Superintendent Diane Douglas, who campaigned on ending Common Core, put her stamp of approval on this process and these standards. It is also disconcerting that these standards were voted on instead of allowing an additional month of review and public comment. Arizona can do better than this.

Read the final draft of Arizona’s ELA and Math standards.

Arizona State Board of Education Votes to Set Up Another Rebrand

arizona-state-flagThe Arizona State Board of Education voted to approve yet another rebrand of the Common Core.  You may remember former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s executive order changing their name.  This time the same board which approved Common Core is in charge of its review.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports:

The State Board of Education has voted to create a committee to review Arizona’s Common Core standards for math and reading.

The committee will hold public hearings and oversee English and math experts who will draft the language of the new standards before the end of the 2015 school year.

The board voted 9-1 to create the 17-member committee that will include business owners, college deans, parents, teachers and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. Douglas built her primary and general election campaigns on her opposition to the standards.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey asked the Board to review the standards and reject the parts that don’t make sense last month.

If Governor Ducey was serious about opposing Common Core like he said when he was campaigning he would ask the board to reject them outright and start over.

I’m not going to hold my breath anything meaningful will come out of this process.  If so I will be delightfully surprised.

Common Core Replacement Bill Advances in the Arizona House

arizona-state-flagHB 2190  was introduced by State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) passed in the Arizona House Education Committee on a 5-2 party-line vote.  The bill if passed would block the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and prohibit the use of PARCC or any other assessment aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

The bill would establish a committee made up of teachers, parents and community members who would determine the new english, math and American History standards.  It also establishes a timeline for public comment and hearings to be held prior.  The bill also includes several student data privacy protections.

Voting for the bill were State Representatives Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix), Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale), Jill Norgaard (R-Phoenix), Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) and Doug Coleman (R-Apache Junction). Voting against State Representatives Reginald Bolding (D-Phoenix) and Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma).

You can read the bill below.

In related news, the Arizona House Education Committee also voted 5-2 in favor of HB 2246 sponsored by State Representative John Ackerley (R-Sahuarita) allows parents to opt-out of any statewide assessment.  The full House voted in favor of HB 2180 sponsored by Boyer on a 35-22 vote.  This bill if passed in the Senate and signed into law would require the Arizona State Board of Education to develop alternatives to the AzMerit Assessment which is aligned with the Common Core.  Local school boards would be able to choose the assessment that works best for their district.

Arizona Pulls Out of PARCC

Arizona announced on Friday that the state was pulling out of the PARCC consortium.

With the pending release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the Arizona State Board of Education for a new statewide assessment that will replace AIMS, Governor Jan Brewer, Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal and State Board of Education President Tom Tyree today announced Arizona’s intent to withdraw from PARCC.

Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards remain intact. Arizona continues to move deliberately towards replacing AIMS with a meaningful state assessment aligned to the new standards.

The state’s withdrawal from the consortium is not a reflection on PARCC, its work, or the quality of the PARCC assessment. The withdrawal is necessary to maintain the integrity of the RFP process. PARCC will  be able to compete for the state’s contract along with any other vendor.

Last week was a lousy week for PARCC.  If I lived in Arizona I would not get excited.  You still have the Common Core (aka Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards) and the state assessment will align to them and could still very well be PARCC.