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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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4/27/2014 8:11:00 AM
Yavapai County school superintendent gets districts ready for common core standards
Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter: “We’ve been in this process for five years. The local district has virtually total control on the implementation.”
Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter: “We’ve been in this process for five years. The local district has virtually total control on the implementation.”
By Patrick Whitehurst
Contributing Reporter

Adoption of the federal Arizona College and Career Ready "common core" standards is already underway in Yavapai County, and AIMS testing for school children will be phased out at the end of the school year. But don't expect high scores right off the bat.

Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter said he's expecting a drop in state scoring during the common core implementation period, particularly in the first year.

"It's to be expected. We're aware of that and we want students to be aware of that. Let's take it in stride and the trend should be upward from there," Carter said.

The new standards, Carter said, include a component of practical application, meaning students will need a working knowledge of course material, rather than simply memorizing answers. Details and procedures for the common core standards have not been finalized by the state, but should be in place by the end of May.

"The new standards are going to be fewer and much more robust. There are fewer of them because the expectation is that we now drill down deeper," Carter said. "In the old days we would teach a formula. If you could give me back a formula, you're good."

One of the biggest things Carter says he hears from students are complaints about learning things they don't think they will need to use outside school.

"The new standards require that students know less volume, but on a deeper level to apply what they know," Carter said. "For educators, that's huge. It's also huge in that they now have to teach differently. Students have to learn differently, so that interaction with parents is going to be substantially different."

Carter himself was involved in the development of the common core standards. He served on one of the teams that helped write the national math standards.

"I think there are people who believe the federal government handed these standards down," Carter said. "My actual work was in reviewing what state teams had done in regard to those standards and providing feedback. That model went to the state. The state could accept it, reject it, or to some point modify those things. We've been in this process for five years. The local district has virtually total control on the implementation."

Helping districts raise awareness for the common core standard is the nonprofit group Expect More Arizona. Representatives for Expect More Arizona have already met with a number of organizations and parent groups throughout the state, said Expect More Arizona Community Mobilizer Jennifer Hernandez.

"We want to ensure that people have the facts about education and particularly about the Arizona College and Career Ready standards," Hernandez said.

Besides their work in college and career ready standards, Expect More Arizona also advocates for early literacy funding and other issues.

While AIMS testing ends this year, districts have already started implementing the new college and career ready standards, said Expect More Arizona Vice President of Public Engagement Christie Silverstein.

"The standards were adopted in 2010. In 2011, some districts in the state started to work on aligning lesson plans and shifting teaching practices," Silverstein said. "The Department of Education rolled it out in stages. In the earlier grades it's been implemented for longer. This academic year was actually the first year for full implementation."

Expect More Arizona started as a public awareness campaign in 2009. It became a non-profit organization, with a board of directors, in 2013. The organization, which works closely with the Arizona Department of Education, receives a majority of their funding from foundations and educational organizations throughout the state.

For more information and to request information on the common core standards, visit the Expect More Arizona website at expectmorearizona.org.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: @ itsy bitsy

It's also a fact that some students will have no problem transitioning, or if they do, elevated standards won't be the reason. I agree, like teachers, primary caregivers in each community need specific expectation guidelines well in advance of the AIMS phase-out. Otherwise, more common learning impediments will slip under their radar, and the result will all be blamed on Common Core.
KCG


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Well, that's certainly realistic, Ms Carter. States that have already completely transitioned have experienced a slide in average scores, partially due to more difficult material, partially to students' unfamiliarity with a different type of testing, partially to glitches in the test itself, and in several states, partially due to glitches in new teaching methods and materials. It makes sense to inform both parents and the media that the education establishment knows it's heading onto a rocky road at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

However, that's not quite the way this article comes off. Maybe rather than warn parents to expect lower scoring--a serious liability for students aiming for scholarships and top-tier admissions, no matter what the cause--a more up-beat approach would be to present the major Arizona CCS upgrades and give parents tips on what to watch for, how to help their kids avoid transition shock. Something more on the order of award-winning Sunset Hills Elementary School 5th Grade teacher Beth Maloney's blog post on the Expect More Arizona website.

http://www.expectmorearizona.org/blog/2014/04/22/must-stay-course-arizonas-college-career-ready-standards/

The fact is Yavapai County is on top of the transition. Your dad's been doing an excellent job putting first things first, helping the districts give teachers the leeway and training they need to introduce and tailor the concept to their communities gradually. We have teachers every bit as experienced as Mrs. Maloney who could speak directly to both the advantages and pitfalls in their specific schools.


Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Cierra Carter

No. What he is saying is that with higher standards comes a more challenging assessment system. We would expect a dip in performance while students are having to learn the application of higher skills.

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Article comment by: Mixed Message

Sounds like Superintendent Carter is saying, "Expect Less Yavapai County."



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