The world has changed. Employers expect more today than they did in the past from their employees. They expect to hire staff with some type of education or advanced training beyond high school. In fact, 85 percent of high growth-high wage jobs in Arizona will require it by 2013. Employers are also expecting to hire employees who have the skills to help their companies compete in the global marketplace and keep up with rapidly changing technology. Today’s employers need their staff to be able to acquire new skills quickly, work with less supervision and identify sophisticated problems and make crucial decisions (Jerry Yaffe, Public Personnel Management).
As a state, we must be committed to providing all Arizona students with a world-class education. Embedded within this must be a commitment to innovation that ensures that all students will gain the key skills needed to be prepared for jobs of the future – many of which do not exist today. Innovation isn’t just about technology, but it is about the skills that students will need to get a good job in the ever-changing, global marketplace. These skills include: creativity, ability to communicate effectively, willingness to collaborate with others, and the ability to apply existing knowledge to new ideas in the future, among others.
Arizona is implementing new academic standards in English language arts and in math that are an important first step in ensuring that all students have these skills. The standards, known as Arizona’s Common Core Standards, will raise the bar to ensure that all students are better prepared for college, career and life. This year, they are being implemented in targeted grades and are expected to roll out to all others next year.
The standards are part of a larger initiative, led by states, to ensure students graduate from high school ready to pursue advanced education or training. States worked together to develop the standards and to date, 46 and the District of Columbia are working to implement them and develop assessments that will be consistent across states, including in Arizona.
As they were developed, the standards were benchmarked against countries with top-notch education programs, to ensure our future generations will be ready to compete in the global marketplace. Arizona’s Common Core standards were designed to improve what students learn and how they learn by teaching critical-thinking, problem solving and effective communications skills.
Together with highly effective teachers, the Standards will better prepare Arizona students to achieve in K-12 and beyond. Although they are not a silver bullet, they are a critical step toward providing a strong foundation for a world-class education system in Arizona and will help students have the skills needed to innovate in the global economy.
To learn more about the standards, visit ArizonaCommonCore.org.