Activists on the ground are calling the new Arizona standards just approved by the Arizona State Board of Education a rebranding of Common Core.
They are also concerned about the lack of transparency since they had the understanding there would be another month to review standards.
The Common Core has been revised in Arizona, and unfortunately whenever Common Core is the starting point for new standards what you will get is a rebranding. That’s not to say there are not significant changes, as there were with New York’s rewrite. Unfortunately New York’s changes appear to be more comprehensive than what we see in Arizona.
The Arizona Republic reports about some of the changes:
Cursive writing appears to be the biggest change in terms of what things kids will be required to learn. There’s been unanimous support for making cursive writing a requirement.
Beyond that, many of the revisions had to do with changing the phrasing of the actual standards that, while unassuming to the average person, are meant to give teachers more freedom over how to teach their students.
Some phrases that appear to instruct teachers how to teach a certain standard were changed. As were phrasings that appeared too vague or unclear.
For example, one phrase in the first-grade reading standards that said students should know how to ask and answer questions about key details in a text was expanded to include the “who, what, when, why and how about key details in a text.”
Educators who worked on the revisions said parts of them have been restructured so that parents can clearly see how the reading and math skills learned in one grade are expanded on in the next.
The revisions will be reflected on AzMERIT, the state’s standardized test, in 2018.
Most of the actual requirements in the standards remain unchanged.
Standards to learn time and money, the high school standards are ordered differently to reflect Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. There are also additional standards added to the high school standards that are not required for graduation so I assume they will not end up on AZMerit.
So there has been some technical changes, but as far as I can see most of the foundational problems still exist. The early elementary standards are still age-inappropriate. There is still an over emphasis on informational text. The math standards still do not adequately prepare students for STEM programs in college.
It’s unfortunate that Superintendent Diane Douglas, who campaigned on ending Common Core, put her stamp of approval on this process and these standards. It is also disconcerting that these standards were voted on instead of allowing an additional month of review and public comment. Arizona can do better than this.