Posted on | January 11, 2013 | No Comments
by Kelsey Bullington, Arizona Ready Coordinator – Governor’s Office of Education Innovation
Facing test scores that fall below the national average, economic crisis and a workforce skills gap, Governor Jan Brewer made education one of her top priorities and decided Arizona should compete for the federal Race to the Top grant. Her goal was for that process to generate a specific road map of actions that would link Arizona’s education system more closely to the demands of the workforce. While we fell short of receiving the grant by only 5 points, the plan Arizona generated was far too good to put on a shelf. In January of 2011, she launched that plan and called it Arizona Ready.
So what is Arizona Ready? The Arizona Ready plan consists of 19 elements that Arizona needs to implement in order to create the classroom of the 21st Century, where students exit 12th grade with a strong foundation to meet workforce needs or the further their education. It is hour specific, measureable goals. It promotes a new approach to education, one with increased accountability, support for struggling schools, growing and retaining great teachers and leaders, the use of data to drive achievement, and perhaps the most prevalent at this moment – more rigorous standards. Arizona’s Common Core Standards are internationally benchmarked and prepare our students to graduate high school ready for college and careers.
The Governor’s Office of Education Innovation was created to ensure the successful implementation of that plan and has been hard at work driving the reforms that have already been enacted as well as looking for ways to continue to improve the system. One key aspect of this work is staffing the Arizona Ready Education Council. Chaired by Dr. Craig Barrett and co-chaired by Superintendent John Huppenthal, the Council is committed to the continuous improvement of Arizona’s school system and is tasked with advising the Governor on how to do just that.
With this momentum in place, and through collaborations with the Arizona Department of Education and various community organizations, Arizona classrooms are being transformed to incorporate high expectations, high standards and engaging lessons that connect concepts to real-world applications – enabling our students to compete in the 21st Century.
As we head down this path, it is clear that the business community has a role to play. It may seem simple, but schools report that simply visiting classrooms to talk with students about doing well in school as a path to future success and exploring different occupations can make a different. So, talk to students about careers. Volunteer. Mentor. Make education a priority for your organization, and stay updated on the latest conversations. We can ensure our students are prepared for the world beyond high school, but it will take all of us to get it done right.
Learn more at www.arizonaready.com.