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The grant, made available through the U.S. Department of Education's annual Improving Teacher Quality state grants program, is administered in Arizona by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).
Adopted by the ADE in 2010, the new common core standards outline what Arizona K-8 (kindergarten, elementary and middle school) and high school students are expected to learn to be ready for college and careers – and what teachers and parents need to do to help them. The timeline calls for the standards to be implemented in the 2013-2014 academic year, with assessment of student learning beginning in 2014-2015.
“This will be an extraordinary effort among our three public universities to help ensure Arizona’s students are competitive in the 21st century,” said Elizabeth Hinde of ASU’s Teachers College and project director. “By awarding this grant, ABOR and ADE are sending a strong signal that not only do they recognize challenges facing Arizona in math achievement, but they are committed to partnering with educators at all levels to overcome those obstacles.”
Arizona joined with 46 other states to create the next generation of K-12 standards in English language arts and mathematics upon which Arizona’s CCSSM is based. However, despite slight improvement in recent years, Arizona continues to lag significantly below the national average in mathematics achievement, according to a 2011 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
“Because the CCSSM will directly impact Arizona’s teachers and students, reaching out to teachers in the classroom with professional development is vitally important,” said Stephanie Jacobson, ABOR associate vice president for academic and student affairs. “The country is still recovering from tough economic circumstances, so high-need school districts in particular are feeling overwhelmed trying to provide teacher training and resources to implement the new standards. We want this funding to be a boon to those districts, and many other schools throughout Arizona, in realizing that achievement.”
The funding allows Arizona’s three universities to collaborate with each other and other educational agencies to help train K-8 teachers as they implement the state-mandated CCSSM. The other educational partners include Prescott College, Southern Arizona Regional Education Center, Arizona Department of Education and several school districts across the state.
Specifically, the grant will fund math and education teams from all three universities to partner with educational agencies and school districts to create new or modify existing math materials, as well as conduct professional development activities with teachers. In addition, through this project, mathematics teacher preparation coursework and materials will be enhanced.
The goal is for current teachers and teacher educators preparing the next generations of teachers to be better equipped to teach the CCSSM. Additionally, teacher education coursework will be better positioned to support future teachers in their work.
At ASU, Teachers College math and education faculty will work with K-8 teachers from the Roosevelt Unified School District in Phoenix. Together, the educators will create and evaluate materials aligned to the CCSSM. Teachers College faculty also will provide training to K-8 teachers throughout the 2013-2014 school year.
UA faculty will collaborate with Southern Arizona Regional Education Center to provide training to teachers throughout the state’s southern region. In Arizona’s northern region, NAU faculty will team up with Prescott College and Flagstaff Unified School District to provide training to elementary school educators.
All materials, including lesson plans and professional development activity ideas, created under the grant eventually will be made available to anyone interested through ASU’s Teachers College Professional Learning Library website. Project director Hinde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.