The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: John Huppenthal
Primary Point of Contact: Lacey Wieser — Director of K-12 Science and Social Studies
Partner Organizations: Science Foundation Arizona; Arizona Science Teachers Association; Arizona Science Education Leadership Association; Arizona Science Center; Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Teachers In Service Program/Engineers in the Classroom; Arizona Game and Fish Department; Arizona Project WET; Mathematics and Science Partnership Grants; Intel.
Background: Arizona requires that all students take three credits of science, however course paths are not specified. The state science standards are broken down by grade level for grades K–8, and high school is divided into 6 strands, the first three relating to processes and connections that should be taught in all science courses in conjunction with the last three which are content strands (life, physical, and earth and space science). Arizona is a local control state, in which local districts manage graduation requirements and course sequences. However all Arizona students must take Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS). The science component of AIMS is administered in grades 9 or 10, following the completion of a biology/life sciences course and is a multiple choice assessment comprised of Strands 1–3 and life science questions. In its application, Arizona stated that standards should define learning objectives for each grade level to maintain consistency among school districts, however curriculum should be left up to each district. Arizona historically has revised its science standards every five to six years, most recently in 2004. A revision was scheduled for 2009, but Arizona has placed the scheduled revision on hold due to the development of the Next Generation Science Standards which it intends to adopt.
Commitment: Arizona has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards and its role as a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Arizona is interested in developing rigorous standards to ensure that all Arizona students have the same opportunities to learn. Development and revision of standards must be a large scale project, and by becoming involved as a lead state Arizona will more directly feel ownership and buy-in when the standards are adopted. Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has created an implementation plan to assist with the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards which includes both professional development and technical assistance.
STEM Involvement: The STEM initiative is significant in Arizona, and the Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a key player in STEM education in working to ensure that all students have access to effective teachers in the STEM subjects, along with strong school and community support. Additionally, the Arizona Center for STEM Teachers (ACST) has developed a teacher professional development experience at the University of Arizona in Oracle, AZ to train teachers in STEM education. The program is led by National Board-Certified Master Teachers and work is underway to expand the program throughout the state through the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension Services program. There have been smaller initiatives, such as a hands-on astronomy program, a robotics after school program and others that illustrate steps the state is taking toward improving STEM education. Arizona prides itself on its STEM work, and demonstrates that STEM education along with CTE technical training should be in line with the creation of the Next Generation Science Standards.
Alliances and Infrastructure: Previously Arizona has relied on its strong ties with school districts and outside partners to enhance and revise development of prior science standards. In the past the state has worked with scientists, science educators, national science consultants, university professors, and community members. Since the most recent standards development in 2004 Arizona has continued to develop and foster strong relationships with K–12 educators, higher education, non-formal educators, and the business community. Both the Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) and Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) have strong relationships with Arizona’s local Educational Service Agencies (ESA) and promote relationships between the ESAs and their professional networks. The Arizona Science Teachers Association (ASTA) has developed a strong relationship with the ADE and the two organizations are currently working together on implementing the Common Core English Language Arts Standards for Reading and Writing in Science and Technical Subjects, and this relationship will continue to develop as the NGSS are released and ready for implementation.
Check back soon for more information on Arizona's state team and implementation plans