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Final Word: Why Common core standards are key for Arizona

This year, Arizona will institute something called Common Core reading standards.

Sounds boring, I know. But if you have kids in grade school, or plan to, it will affect you.

If you think we need to make school tougher so that we graduate better students, you should love Common Core. For the first time, it won’t be the AIMS test or your kid’s teacher who will decide if your child is reading at grade level. By the end of the third grade, your child will be assessed by a new test called the PARCC assessment. And if they don’t, they will fail.

That’s right: They will repeat the third grade.

I think we should be excited about this. Not about the idea of the your child failing the third grade because, having a student going into the fourth grade this year, I know that would be awful, but isn’t it better to find out now that your son or daughter can’t read at grade level than to find out when they drop out at 16?

If I am scaring you, here’s another fact: States build prison beds based upon third grade reading levels.

How about that?

I wish we could find the kids who can’t read earlier than the third grade so the social stigma of failure wouldn’t be so tough. Plus we would have more time to get the kids up to speed. But I think we will get there and that adopting Common Core standards is the first step.

The report cards will look a lot different too. Teachers will be grading the kids on very specific high standards that focus on comprehension instead of memorization. It’s all good, but, believe it or not, there are groups against Common Core standards.

They don’t like the idea that the National Governor’s Association has signed on to recommend the standards. It’s like the states’ rights arguments made at the expense of our kids’ educations.

Not smart.