Feb 13, 2013
The following story was published on Feb. 10, 2013, in the Eastern Arizona Courier. You can read the original story by clicking here.
By Jon Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
SAFFORD — The Chairman of Governor Jan Brewer's Arizona Ready Education Council visited the Gila Valley Tuesday, to offer an education on how new learning standards will best be implemented at the local level.
Dr. Craig Barrett, retired CEO/Chairman of Intel Corp, was named chairman of Brewer's education council in December and was tasked with leading his organization in implementing Arizona's new state education standards — the Common Core Standards — as adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. The CCS has been adopted by 46 states and is designed so students throughout America have the same English/language arts and math benchmarks. The benchmarks are designed to match up against international standards as well.
Barrett said measuring against international standards is an important aspect because, while America was once at the forefront in education, it has slipped the past 30 years.
"Where as we used to have the best educated workforce in a post secondary education standpoint in the world, we are no longer in that category," Barrett told a group of education representatives from Thatcher, Solomon and Bonita. "We've fallen substantially."
Barrett continued the international comparison and said it is not limited to a general sampling of all students, but included America’s best and brightest as well.
"Our top 10 percent are in the bottom 50 percent of the worldwide top 10 percent," Barrett said. "It means that are cream of the crop are on the bottom of the cream for the rest of the world."
The education council also focuses on training and recruitment of teachers to implement the new standards and the implementation of a new, internationally benchmarked assessment. The new assessment is called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The PARCC will replace the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards assessment in the 2014/15 school year, which students must pass to receive their high school diploma.
Barrett said having a set of standards on par with an international bar is important because those who apply for high-paying technology jobs compete with applicants from not only the same state or country, but from a worldwide pool.
He added that he believes Brewer's plan of action can be successful and points out how it rewards school's that not only show achievement but also improvement.
"What we want is to improve the system," he said, "and we want high-level achievement."
During the meeting Tuesday, several local school representatives stressed the importance of technology and vocational training.
Thatcher Superintendent Paul Nelson said while there are many requirements coming from the state, schools has little capital with which to implement.
"If it wasn't for technical education, we probably wouldn't have half of what we have," Nelson said.
Arizona Ready Education Council goals by 2020
• Increase percentage of third graders meeting state reading standards from 73 percent to 94 percent.
• Raise the high school graduation rate from 73 percent to 93 percent.
• Increase the percentage of eighth graders achieving at or above basic on the National Assessment of Education Programs from 67 percent to 85 percent in math and from 68 percent to 85 percent in reading.
• Double the number of students receiving baccalaureate degrees to 36,000 per year.
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