Higher standards next step towards Arizona education revolution
Over the last few years, the United States has endured one of the greatest economic downturns since the Great Depression. Yet during this time of high unemployment, around the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s boardroom table, we have consistently heard that employers from nearly every industry were struggling to find workers with the skills to fill vacancies. How could this be? Arizona’s school systems have made important advances in the last several years. For example, Arizona is currently home to some of the best schools in the country, we are making progress in third-grade literacy, we added core academic credits to high school to align with the requirements of our universities, and have a flourishing network of charter schools and open enrollment in our public school districts. While these improvements have started to move the needle, they are not sufficient and there is still much work to be done. Arizona has had standards in the classroom since 1999. But we lowered the bar for fear of our own failure, and now we are paying the price. Consider:
- Forty-two percent of employers report that newly hired high school graduates are deficient in reading, writing and math.
- Less than 20 percent of Arizona students graduate from a four-year institution within six years.
- Sixty percent of students who attend community college require remedial coursework.