Arizona’s Ducey Asks State Board to Review Common Core

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has asked the state Board of Education to carefully review the state’s Common Core standards– though he did not call for the standards to be eliminated.

The Associated Press reports Ducey asked the board to adjust the standards to the needs of the students of Arizona and ordered that parents and teachers statewide be involved.

“And it’s normal to have a review of the standards process,” Ducey said. “I think this has become a real distraction in our state, and you see it across the country.”

The federal standards were adopted by the state in 2010 and are fully integrated into the Arizona curriculum. In the past few years, however, the federal standards have become a political hot potato with opponents raising concerns about federal overreach.

Those who support the Common Core say that the standards are created by the state and are established to ensure students are career- and college-ready. Arizona was one of the states that drew up the standards, but now the state legislature is considering a bill to eliminate Common Core.

“I don’t think that legislation’s necessary because we’re going to fix what’s wrong with these standards,” he said. “We are going to set our own standards, and we’re going to take charge of them here in Arizona.”

During his 2014 campaign and when he took office in January, Ducey made known that he felt Arizona should have its own standards, but never went as far as saying that Arizona should pull out of Common Core. Last week, the governor appointed five new members to the 11-member board. One is a vocal opponent of the Common Core and one is a school superintendent who participated in the writing the math portion of the standards.

At the board meeting, says Cathryn Creno writing for The Arizona Republic, the governor referenced data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress which showed that Arizona is behind other states in math and reading. The assessment, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, is given to students across the country.

Ducey pointed out that the state’s scores on Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, AIMS, shows the state’s students ranking higher on math and reading than the national test does. Since 2013, education leaders have said the AIMS and the old standards are not challenging enough to prepare students for college or careers. Suzan DePrez, Mesa Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, is supportive of the governor’s plan to review the standards, which she says is the normal process.

“We appreciate the governor’s approach to review the standards and continuously improve them rather than start from scratch,” said Christie Silverstein of Expect More Arizona. Silverstein said it would waste taxpayer resources “to start over again.”

Diane Douglas, who was elected the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, wants to repeal the Common Core standards.

Rick Rojas, writing for The New York Times, reports that Lisa Graham Keegan, a former superintendent of public instruction, said that some of the opposition to the Common Core is because parents and educators are finding it difficult to contribute to the conversation. The public, in general, would like to have a say.

María Inés Taracena, in a post for the Tucson Weekly, quotes the governor from his speech to the board:

Between federal, state, and local dollars Arizona is spending approximately $10 billion dollars to educate one million students in our K-12 schools. Now it’s time to focus on how we best use the resources we have. I would far prefer the focus to be “are the kids learning” by looking at outcomes and “are the kids graduating” by looking at our graduation rates. Our children would be far better served by focusing on the answers to those questions than the ones we often find ourselves debating at the state Capitol.