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Brewer touts ed-reform plan built around website

Governor hopes to see rise in reading and math scores

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer is challenging Arizona to improve reading and math performance, raise high school graduation rates and increase the number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees.

Those goals are the focus of an education-reform plan, built around the website ArizonaReady.com, that Brewer unveiled Thursday during a news conference at the Arizona Science Center.

“The dream of our children graduating from college is a dream all parents share,” Brewer said.

Dubbed Arizona Ready, the campaign incorporates a website explaining its goals and providing students information and opportunities, such as a special offer on admission to the science center.

“Arizona Ready isn’t just a website; it’s a commitment that I’m making to you that Arizona will meet our goals,” Brewer said.

The campaign stems from an education reform plan the governor announced in January. It challenges Arizona to achieve the following by 2020:

  • Increase the percentage of third-graders meeting Arizona’s reading standards to 94 percent, up from 73 percent in 2010.
  • Raise the high school graduation rate to 93 percent, up from 75 percent in 2010.
  • Dramatically increase the performance of eighth-graders in math and reading, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Programs.
  • Double the number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees to 36,000 per year.

The website offers the opportunity to participate in the Real World Design Challenge, a national initiative that has teams of high school students addressing a problem-solving project. The winning team will go to Washington, D.C., to participate in a national competition.

Ralph Coppola, executive director of the Real World Design Challenge, said each team of participating students will have access to $1 million in state-of-the-art engineering software, which will be donated.

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Coppola said providing students with this technology will benefit the state in the long run.

“Innovation drives the economy,” Coppola said.

Asked whether the state can achieve her goals after deep cuts in education funding in recent years, Brewer said she’s optimistic that education will be spared further cuts.

“I certainly hope that the money will be there,” she said.

In a telephone interview, Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson, the House minority whip, called the website a gimmick.

“If she wanted to fix education, she can do that by funding education,” Tovar said.

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Joanne Ingram/Flickr

Gov. Jan Brewer speaks with Douglas Young, chairman of the Arizona Science Center’s board of directors, at an event in which she announced an education-reform plan dubbed Arizona Ready.

Other plan details

  • School year 2011/2012: Parents of kindergarten and first grade students will begin to receive information about the goal of reading by the end of third grade.
  • School year 2012/2013: A Teacher/Principal Evaluation system will be implemented by school districts, which will include student test scores.
  • School year 2013/2014: Third-graders whose AIMS scores fall below the third grade level will not move on to fourth grade unless exempted.
  • School year 2014/2015: New assessments for students will be introduced. Third- through 11th-graders will take a diagnostic test to determine what skills need to be improved to remain on track for college and career preparation.