School Notes: Arizona parents have a lot of education information to digest - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

School Notes: Arizona parents have a lot of education information to digest

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Michelle Reese covers education for the Tribune and blogs about motherhood and family issues at Contact her at

Michelle Reese covered education for the Tribune, also blogging about motherhood and family issues at

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 2:34 pm | Updated: 3:34 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

A glance through in the past week revealed stories about Arizona’s education tax initiative, ASU’s move to make college costs more transparent, a profile on a local school, a list of dozens of people trying to win a school board seat and information about the growing home-schooling trend.

After attending a Mesa school board meeting last week, I spent time going through the website of my children’s school. This morning I sat in on a casual conversation between parents about gifted education.

And don’t get me started on the number of stories I click on from Twitter.

Education information is everywhere, in every form. From newspapers to Facebook to school and district websites to public meetings, school meetings and “meet ups” for parents, there’s a lot to learn.

And that’s because there’s a lot of transformation.

It seems that just when we’re used to the test, the grading system or the curriculum in our schools, a change arrives.

Just think what that means for the teachers and staff, too.

This year, public school teachers across the state face new teacher evaluation systems. At least 50 percent of their performance will be judged on student assessment.

Currently, the primary academic indicator is AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards). In less than three years, Arizona students will take the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exam, based on national Common Core Standards that Arizona adopted.

Will teachers then be evaluated with that exam?

Speaking of AIMS and PARCC, high school students are required — for now — to pass the AIMS to graduate.

So when PARCC arrives, likely by spring 2015, will that be required? Will students also take the AIMS while there’s transition to the new exam?

These were all questions asked during a recent governing board meeting.

Then there’s the technology piece that — just like in our homes — changes before we get used to the device in our hands.

Confused yet?

Much is going on in Arizona education. Digesting it all as a parent of a student may require some work.

Luckily, a lot of schools and districts are trying to keep moms and dads informed. My own children’s school hosted a meeting last week about curriculum and Common Core Standards.

Look on the Mesa Unified School District website under “parent resources,” and you’ll find links to the standards, a timeline for implementation and videos about them.

A story on the Gilbert Unified School District’s website highlights a pilot program at some campuses where students can bring their own iPads, iPods, e-readers and laptops.

Even the state Department of Education website has a parent page (see practice AIMS questions!).

And at the Tribune, we’re hoping to stay on top of the impact to East Valley schools through our website, Facebook and Twitter. We’ll post our own stories, as well as those from guest experts writing on education topics. On Twitter (see @EVEdnews and @evmoms), I’ll retweet national stories that may be of interest.

But don’t forget your best resource on what it all means for your student: If you can, visit the classroom this year and see what’s going on for yourself.

• Read more school news at, and follow us on Facebook (, Twitter (@EVEdnews), and on Pinterest ( Contact Michelle Reese at (480) 898-6549 or

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