While our economy is still on the cusp of a comeback, Arizona’s education system runs the risk of being forced back into the 20th century. Senate Bill 1310 would prohibit the implementation of the Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. If this bill is successful, it will significantly roll back the progress of Arizona’s schools and students, moving us back to a system from the era of dial-up internet.
Myth 1: We will have standards next school year with this bill.
The Reality: This bill forbids the use of the academic standards that were adopted four years ago, as of the effective date of the bill. So as of that date, there would be no academic standards for English, Language Arts or Math. The State Board would have to decide whether to revert back to the old standards or to develop new ones. Developing new standards is a multi-year process, so reverting to the old standards would be a more likely course of action, but those standards have not been taught for several years. In fact, we no longer have a state test for those standards, and those standards have led to the poor results we see for our students today. So this bill allows the following two options: have no standards or assessment next year while the State Board develops new standards or have low-quality standards (also with no assessment) which do not meet the needs of our students, our teachers or our schools.
Myth 2: This bill will not cause any issues in the field.
The Reality: This bill is already causing issues for teachers, principals, and parents. It is already leading to confusion about what teachers should be teaching now and preparing for next year. And if the bill passes, it will get even worse, because teachers will have to forget everything they have been doing over the past four years and go back to standards they don’t want.
Myth 3: Teachers don’t want the new standards.
The Reality: A poll released recently from Scholastic showed that 84% of Arizona teachers were enthusiastic about the implementation of the new standards in their classrooms, and 83% of teachers believe the new standards will improve their students’ abilities to think critically and use reasoning skills.
Myth 4: The new standards hurt school choice.
The Reality: Standards provide a foundation – or a floor – of what’s expected. Schools can go far beyond the standards and approach the material in a wide variety of ways. The standards and assessments provide a level of “quality control” for parents so they know their student is receiving at least as much as every other student in the state, but they are receiving that education in an environment and with an approach that works for that student and family.
Myth 5: SB1310 will have no fiscal impact.
The Reality: Most obviously, the requirement to secure a third party evaluation of the cost of the standards will cost monies that are neither appropriated nor available. Secondly, there will be an enormous cost to schools who have just updated their materials and trained their teachers who would need to do so again for a new set of standards (or a reversion to the old standards). If the State Board does implement new standards, there is also a significant cost associated with that process. Every provision of this bill has a fiscal impact that is not being discussed.
Myth 6: The ADE implements the standards, not the State Board.
The Reality: The State Board adopts the standards, schools and teachers implement the standards, and the ADE provides technical assistance to those schools and teachers in the process. The ADE has no authority to adopt standards.