Parents, teachers, education leaders and activists gathered last week at the State Capitol for an informational meeting that discussed the new Common Core state standards and the possibility of replacing AIMS testing.
House Bill 2047, which had recently been stalled, proposes for a change in language regarding the state-wide Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test for students.
The Arizona Senate Thursday amended the bill, which is now is headed for the House.
Though school districts around the Valley have already begun to flow in the new standards in curriculum and teaching, like the Kyrene School District, opposition arose recently with the possibility of the AIMS test with a new assessment called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
“It will be different than what we’ve seen,” said Kyrene Superintendent Dr. David Schauer. “But it’s very clear that this is the right direction for the state to go.”
HB 2047 would replace the AIMS test and remove its norm-referenced test used to measure student performance compared to students in other states.
Supporters and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doris Goodale say that the AIMS test is no longer relevant to be administered since it measures old standards.
“We cannot and we must not continue a 10th-grade assessment, which translates into a 60 percent remediation rate in college readiness,” she said during the meeting.
Arizona’s Common Core Standards were accepted by the State Board of Education in 2010 and since have been slowly phased in to local schools in Kyrene as well as Horizon Community Learning Center. The standards have been adopted in 46 other states in the country and promote higher achievement with English language and mathematics.
Concerned Kyrene parent, Jennifer Reynolds, said she is pulling her two young children out of public school because of the standards.
“I’ve witnessed over the last six months my son learning conceptual skills instead of algorithmic skills. He’s been slowed down all this time,” she said.
Opponents at the meeting were also concerned about the loss of local control with Common Core, but Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Baca of the Tempe Union High School District assured that local school governing boards will “continue to retain authority to approve curricula and textbooks.”
Former teacher, wife to Sen. John McComish and Ahwatukee Foothills resident Karen McComish said she fully supports the standards and is “disappointed” in the public’s refusal to vote for it.
“I see it as a positive. I know there’s a lot to work out, but I think we should join the rest of the country in doing it,” she said.
Regarding parent and community concern, Schauer said he hopes opponents and school officials can sit down together to learn more about the standards and that the state as a whole needs improvement.
“People opposed might not really know what (the standards) are,” he said. “It’s hard to get their attention on issues like this, and now all of a sudden we do.”
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