Janey Pearl, Communications Director of Stand for Children – Arizona, talks to Sonoran Living about Arizona’s adoption of Common Core Standards.

When families move to Arizona from other states, they are often challenged to ensure their children continue to progress on the same path academically. Many have discovered the standards and skills for each grade differ from state to state, and true apples-to-apples comparisons haven’t been possible. However, all of that is starting to change for Arizona families.

Arizona is one of 48 states that have voluntarily adopted the nationally benchmarked and internationally influenced Common Core State Standards. The adoption of these new standards raises the bar academically for our students and increases the alignment of public education quality across the nation, ensuring that our students graduate with the same core knowledge and critical thinking skills as their counterparts in other states. And with 50 percent of Arizona’s high school graduates being unqualified to enroll in our state’s public universities, these new, higher standards are intended to better prepare our students for success in college and career.

Over the next three years, the standards will be integrated into all public school curricula from kindergarten through 12th grade. In fact, this year’s class of Arizona kindergartners will be the first group to see full implementation of the new language arts and math standards. By the 2013-2014 school year, teachers in all grade levels will use the national standards to determine what students learn. Teachers will still develop curriculum and decide how to teach the information, but will ensure that the common core standards are integrated into the classroom learning.

One example of how common core is being integrated into the classroom is in mathematics. Rather than just learning to count numbers, students will have a greater focus on what numbers are and how they relate to other numbers. In upper grades, they will be asked not just what the answer is to a math question but to explain how they got that answer.

In language arts, all students will be trained to better understand the context of stories. Middle school students will be asked to listen, ask questions and form opinions and will be exposed to information texts such as textbooks, historical journals and nonfiction. Critical thinking will be a key component of the educational experience.

Parents can help increase the long-term success of their student by being supportive of raising the academic bar and the adoption of Common Core State Standards. Most importantly, they can create a high expectations culture in their home and commit to be actively engaged in their child’s education every step of the way. Learn more about setting high expectations for Arizona’s students with ExpectMoreArizona.org .