It’s hard to believe that we are a quarter of the way through a school year already! As the parent of two school-age boys, I was shocked that fall break snuck up on us so quickly. I also know that parent-teacher conferences are just around the corner and I always look forward to this time to reflect on the first part of the semester.
Stand for Children Arizona is proud to announce that education leader and advocate Rebecca Gau has joined the organization as Executive Director. Rebecca replaces John Fisher, who departs after two years at the helm of Stand for Children Arizona, and will be relocating to the Midwest with his wife in order to be closer to family.
The Arizona Legislature adjourned last week, after 102 days in session. It was a busy legislative session and there were a number of victories for students this year. Defending Standards and Assessments
During the session, Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards—which are already helping students across our state—came under attack from a small, but vocal group.
In Arizona's 2012 State Report Card, we learned that according to AIMS - Arizona's state test - 67% of 4th graders scored a "meets" standards or "exceeds" standards in math, and 76% did so in reading. While that doesn't sound amazing, it isn't awful either. In the same document, though, we see that on the NAEP - the "nation's report card" test - only 33% of students scored proficient in math and only 26% did so in reading. Why would there be such a disparity?
We’ve been busy at the Arizona State Capitol the past few weeks advocating for high standards and expectations for students. Teachers have been working tirelessly to prepare for the full implementation of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. These higher expectations will help parents understand what their child is supposed to know each year in order to be ready for the next grade. They will also help students be successful after they graduate high school, whether they choose college or a career.
Yesterday morning, 125 school, business, legislative, and community leaders gathered to talk about Arizona’s effort to provide the best possible schools for our students. 20 years ago, when Arizona passed its charter school law, the state believed that quality charters would thrive while schools that weren't operating as they should would fall away. Unfortunately, without strong accountability policies in place, Arizona became known for its quantity of charter schools rather than its quality.
If an eight-year-old child fails Arizona’s reading test on April 7, Arizona law requires that child to repeat third grade[i]. If 2014 AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards) results are consistent with 2013, then up to four percent of our third grade students will be retained, according to the Arizona Department of Education[ii]. That means about 3,359 children will be told before their ninth birthday that they cannot move on to fourth grade with their friends and peers.
Last month, Stand for Children commissioned a poll to learn more about what voters thought of the new academic standards, known as Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. The poll showed, consistent with other polls, that there was still low awareness across the state. Schools are in the third year of implementing these standards, but most people really didn’t know anything about them. We also wanted to learn about who the voters listened to when it came to education issues, and surprisingly, there really wasn’t one person or group who was the clear leader. But, when voters knew