Teachers, education advocates and the Arizona State Board of Education have applauded revised English language arts and math standards.
“This is a huge step. It’s like the Olympics,” said Board of Education President Reginald Ballantyne before the board unanimously approved the draft standards Monday.
The standards are meant to define skills Arizona students should know by the end of each grade level and are largely based on the 2010 Common Core standards.
“We basically took them apart and made them so they were better, easier to use,” said Gina Bahlman, who coaches teachers in the Mayer School District near Prescott and helped revise the standards.
The most notable difference is that third graders would have learn to write in cursive.
Here are a few examples of the math and English language arts standards:
- Kindergarten: Recognize and produce rhyming words
- First grade: Identify coins by name and value.
- Third grade: Read and write upper- and lower-case cursive letters.
- Fourth grade: Measure angles in whole number degrees using a protractor. Sketch angles of specified measure.
- Eighth grade: Explain a proof of the Pythagorean theorem and its converse.
Gov. Doug Ducey told the board to review the standards back in March 2015. Since the fall of that year, a working group of educators met at least six times to revise the standards and review more than 2,000 public comments.
"As a teacher and working with other educators throughout the state, we really had in mind what was really best for Arizona students in our schools," said Janice Mak, chair of the math review subcommittee and a teacher in the Paradise Valley School District. Ducey recently named Mak to the Board of Education, and Monday was her first meeting as a board member.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas released a statement by email Friday in response to the standards' release:
"I am excited that Arizona is finally moving away from the federally imposed Common Core standards. The drafting of higher and more rigorous standards that are developmentally appropriate at every grade level brings us one step closer to giving Arizona students the excellent education they deserve. While I have not yet completed my final review of the drafts, I am pleased with the direction we are taking based on the briefings I have had so far."
The public can comment on the standards online or in a series of meetings throughout the state in September. After feedback is collected, the state board is expected to vote on the final standards before the end of the year. The earliest the new standards could be used in classrooms is 2018.
Click here to find a public meeting near you.