As Arizona works to become one of the 47 states to implement Common Core Standards, the Marana School District to set procedures to have teachers ready to teach it in the 2013-2014 school year.

School district officials talked about the process during the monthly luncheon hosted by the Marana Chamber of Commerce. The Marana Chamber invited Doug Wilson, superintendent of the Marana School District, along with Brett Kramer, the district’s executive director of improvement initiatives.

In 2010, Arizona joined with 46 other states to create the next generation of K-12 standards in English language arts and mathematics. These standards provide a consistent framework to prepare students for success in college and/or the 21st century workplace. 

Kramer said the Marana School District continues to train and work with teachers to prepare for the new standards, which will replace the Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards (AIMS). The Marana School District started implementing an instructional model for teachers last year.

“Some criticism is that it (Copper Core Standards) are too business driven,” said Kramer. “They are definitely going to prepare students for the workplace, but they are also going to prepare students for life.”

Kramer said some factors to consider are the continuing advancements in education.

“Today we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist,” he said. “Technology is changing every 18 months. High school education is absolutely critical today.”

In being able to implement the Common Core Standards, Kramer said knowing the standards isn’t going to be enough for teachers, they are going to have to find a way to teach them to students between kindergarten and 12th grades.

“Teaching these standards is going to be a challenge in the first couple of years, especially for older students,” said Kramer.

Gov. Jan Brewer has been promoting Arizona’s Common Core Standards, bringing up the need to improve education standards especially in math and science during the annual State of the State address.

“To enable our schools to keep pace with global competition, we’re raising standards and increasing accountability for students, schools and teachers,” said Brewer. “Everyone knows that global competition for jobs has changed. Our schools must keep pace. 

Our new Common Core standards are benchmarked to the top education measures in the world. If Arizona schools aren’t doing the job, we’ll know about it – and so will parents.”

Brewer has said that not only does Common Core Standards improve what students learn, but how they learn, bringing teachers back to the fun and rewarding aspects of the profession.

The Arizona Department of Education has trained more than 14,000 educators at over 400 training sessions, but there is still a long way to go to prepare Arizona’s approximately 70,000 teachers to make the changes.

For Superintendent Wilson, coming into compliance with the new standards is a top priority, but refocusing teaching from standardized tests is going to help improve the state of education.

“We want to nurture to a love of learning,” he said. “We want to be compliant and have students do well on a test, but that shouldn’t be our focus.”

One focus by the Marana School District is recruiting good teachers. To do that, Wilson said Marana might not be able to pay them the most, but by implementing a program that would pay for Marana students’ college education, Wilson said the incentive to relocate is there.

Wilson stressed that the Marana School District continues to focus on partnering with the local community to improve education, which means programs such as the Marana 2340 Foundation, which is designed to support a student from day one of Kindergarten through the final day of 12th-grade, which is an 2,340 total days.

In 2013, Wilson said the district hopes to raise $250,000 in community donations. The specific goal is to get $1,000 donations from 100 people, and $100 donations from $1,000 people.

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