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Common core favorable at UA

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Brittney Smith | The Daily Wildcat Brittney Smith / The Daily Wildcat Students enter the College of Education at the University of Arizona on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014.

With Common Core standards on the line in the gubernatorial election, some UA professors and local Tucson teachers agree that common core standards are beneficial to students in preparing for college.

The Arizona Republic recently fact-checked that gubernatorial candidate Fred DuVal supports Common Core, unlike his opponent, Doug Ducey.

In an attempt to deflect criticism, some states have decided to throw out the title “common core” and individualize their educational standards. Gov. Jan Brewer opted for the title Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.

Common core is not a federal mandate or national curriculum, though there is an incentive to adopt it in the form of the federally funded Race to the Top grant. This grant is the result of years of labor conducted by the bi-partisan organization Achieve, with the help of state educators and representatives.

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In 2009, research began to elevate rigor and expectancies of the American K-12 education system. Common Core was crafted with the intention that each state would alter it to its specific needs.

The overall goal is to ensure American children have the same academic proficiency as other American children their own age, independent of their home state.

William McCallum, a professor in mathematics and founder of the Institute for Mathematics and Education, designed the mathematics portion of Common Core standards.

“Standards are standards,” McCallum said. “People often confuse standards with curriculum. Standards don’t define curriculum. Curriculum is how you reach the standards. It is simply expectations of what children need. Standards give us the tools to solve problems.”

Dean Ronald Marx of education stressed the national importance of aligning educational expectations. Teacher preparation programs typically prepare future teachers to teach the standards of the state where they study. This can cause future teachers searching for employment in another state unable to meet specific standards due to academic inconsistencies.

Marx said he believes this will not be an issue for UA students because McCallum taught Common Core to them with the assistance of other teachers.

“In many respects, we are ground zero for the mathematics effort,” Marx said. “This is enormously helpful to the university and our students.”

McCallum said some graduates from the program have informed him their teaching is in high demand across the country due to their understanding of Common Core.

Some parents of children at E.C. Nash Elementary School have not heard of Common Core standards. The school displays academic enthusiasm on its marquee board, which reads “We are a proud no excuses university school. We are college bound.”

Rene Acereto, a seventh-grade math teacher at Flowing Wells Junior High School, said he encourages parents to learn about Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. He said it has greatly benefited his students’ ability to conceptualize and explain mathematics understanding.

Reynaldo Lopez, a non-UA affiliated man spotted on campus going for a walk with his six-year-old grandson, said he believes standards are needed, but wonders if they can overcome a lack of parental involvement. Lopez said that he believes it’s necessary for parents to be engaged in their child’s education.

“They don’t spend time with their kids,” Lopez said. “Kids will continue to struggle. Parents don’t care.”
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Follow Anna Ludlum on Twitter @DailyWildcat


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