Diane Douglas

As states across the country move away from the federally mandated Common Core standards the question quickly turns to what to put in its place.

As with other states, Arizona is taking a fine-tooth comb to its language arts and math standards to develop something that is more rigorous and developmentally appropriate at every grade level.

Spearheading the effort is the Department of Public Instruction and its Superintendent Diane Douglas. After more than one year of work, in August the department released a draft version of the proposed changes.

“I don’t expect there will be radical changes,” Douglas said. “One of the problems with Common Core was that it moved too much in the area of curriculum. The standards are what should be taught and curriculum is how it will be taught. In Arizona that’s done at the local level through district school boards. One of the things that was so egregious about Common Core is the way it drove curriculum, so I expect to see those kinds of things would be corrected.”

By driving curriculum, some educators maintain, Common Core created gaps in student knowledge.

“One of the buzzwords to sell Common Core was to make our students critical thinkers, but the problem is in order to think critically you have to have something to think about,” Douglas said. “If you are asking kids to think critically and they don’t have the facts or the knowledge of the subject how can they possible achieve this goal?”

By all accounts, prior to Arizona adopting Common Core in 2010 the state’s education standards were considered to be some of the best in the nation.

Many educators throughout the state thought the federal government’s mandated standards, which were tied to funding, represented a colossal overreach.

“It’s really unfortunate that Common Core played out the way it did, but I look at it from a broader perspective,” Douglas said. “It’s not just the Common Core standards itself, it was the intrusion by the federal government into our education system, one in which they have no constitutional role to play and yet they created or were party to creating national standards that we all had to adopt.”

What works in Arizona, Douglas added, doesn’t necessarily work in New York.

“One of the glaring omissions of Common Core standards in math was that it was claimed they were college and career ready, yet there were no standards for higher level math,” Douglas said. “By the end of this year, my department expects to release draft standards addressing this issue. So, we’re moving in a good direction.”


(1) comment


"As with other states, Arizona is taking a fine-tooth comb to its language arts and math standards to develop something that is more rigorous and developmentally appropriate at every grade level."


We have seen the proposed 2016 Math and ELA standards, and we have done a line-by-line comparison of every proposed standard against the 2010 Common Core standards. Guess what? There are virtually no changes in any of the standards, ELA or Math. What the Standards Development Committee, headed by Karol Schmidt of the SBE, has succeeded in doing in almost 18 months, is re-heat the same moldy leftovers. I wouldn't be surprised if the Standards Dev Committee's meetings didn't involve a lot of margaritas, and chips and salsa. The quality of the review speaks to that.

If Diane Douglas believes the Committee, which is little more than a five clown circus, is going to produce better quality anything, she's deluded. The 2010 higher level math standards for Geometry completely removed the teaching of geometric proofs in Geometry. You simply can NOT teach geometry in upper level math without teaching proofs. If the Committee had been serious and if any of them had really understood what they were doing, geometric proofs would have been returned to Math standards in Arizona. They were not.

If you're looking for the Committee to have done anything productive, don't hold your breath. If you would like to do your own side-by-side comparison, you can do so here. That is, until the SBE decides they don't want parents or any other interested party to see them.

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