Craig Barrett is getting an earful.
As chairman of Arizona Ready, he is making the rounds talking to teachers, principals and district administrators about Arizona's effort to implement the Common Core standards.
On Wednesday he was in Flagstaff. The day before, he was in Kingman. And now he is headed to Tuba City.
Barrett concedes that implementing the Common Core standards will not be a trivial undertaking.
"You have to change the curriculum for practically every class, K-12. You have to make sure the teachers are skillful and knowledgeable about what is going on in that space and then you have to do the implementation. And then there is the assessment."
Arizona adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, and they will go into effect by 2014- 15. The AIMS test will be replaced by the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Test in 2014-15.
Arizona is one of 46 states to adopt these standards in an effort to help students become competitive in college and the workplace nationally and internationally. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.
Under the direction of the county and state, Flagstaff schools have already started implementing math and English/ language arts sections of the Common Core standards. Barrett outlined Arizona's four goals:
-- Third-graders should read at grade level.
-- Middle school students should be learning basic math, science and language arts, and they should be internationally competitive .
-- Reduce the dropout rate.
-- Double the number of students getting post-secondary degrees.
Barrett is busy in the education field, and this is surprising for someone who has a materials science doctorate from Stanford University and was once Intel's CEO. He got involved in education when, during a discussion of business investments in Arizona, others pointed to Intel's $5 billion investment in Chandler.
"I raised my hand and said that Intel would not have made that investment (if it was starting from scratch). The only reason they made that investment was they already had 10,000 employees. Until you fix the education system in the state, you are not going to attract big investments like that."
Gov. Jan Brewer appointed Barrett chairman of the task force, Arizona Ready Education Council. He is also chairman of Change the Equation, co-chairman of Achieve, Inc. and president and chairman of Basis Schools.
Funding, teacher assessment and training were a few of the main concerns voiced by Barrett's audience in Flagstaff. Barrett is OK putting more funding into education as long as it is tied to performance measures.
"If you do an outstanding job moving your schools from grade 'C' to 'B' to 'A', that should be rewarded," he said. "If you do a good job with students in AP classes, that should be rewarded. If you do an outstanding job on lowering the dropout rate, that should be rewarded."
He noted, however, "just throwing money at education has never worked in the past."
One issue the state is struggling with is how to measure teacher performance effectively. Barrett says that a group is looking into a database that would develop longitudinal information on a student. That way, Barrett said, you would know where they start, keep track of their learning and keep track of each teacher's contribution to the student's learning.
A LACK OF 'CREATIVE ENERGY'
Teachers have been in training for Common Core standards since 2010. Training, according to one attendee, comes across as punitive, rather than encouraging.
"The training lacks creative energy," one attendee said.
On the other hand, the Common Core standards have been embraced.
"The Common Core standards are good, they are wonderful," one principal said. "What my staff have done with them is amazing. None of that has come from the training."
Robert Kelty, Coconino County Superintendent of Schools, voiced his concern about losing talented teachers during this process.
"Great teachers is number one on the list for a great teaching system," Barrett responded.
Cecile LeBlanc can be reached at 556-2261 or firstname.lastname@example.org.