2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE 55 For more information on Valley employment, visit jobs. azcentral. com Arizona Charter Schools Association 7500 N. Dreamy Draw Drive Suite 220 Phoenix, 85020 • 602- 944- 0644 • www. azcharters. org Arizona Department of Education 1535 W. Jefferson St. Phoenix, 85007 • 800- 352- 4558 • www. ade. az. gov Arizona Education Association 345 East Palm Lane Phoenix, 85004 • 800- 352- 5411 • www. arizonaea. org Arizona Private School Association 7776 S. Pointe Parkway West, Suite 110 Phoenix, 85044 • 602- 254- 5199 • www. arizonapsa. org Maricopa County School Superintendent, K- 12 4041 N. Central Avenue, Suite 1100 Phoenix, 85012 • 602- 506- 3866 • www. maricopa. gov/ schools EDUCATION RESOURCE GUIDE " I want all the doors open for my students that are possible," Standerfer said. " I don't want them to have doors closed because they didn't have the experiences in high school or they are not academically prepared. Arizona is a state that is innovative in meeting needs." Tom Horne, Arizona's superintendent of public instruction, expects positives stories from the state's schools. He's confident families that move to Arizona can find schools that can compete with those in their home states. Through enforcing academic rigor in the classroom and holding schools accountable, Horne is sure his schools are stacking up with the rest of the nation. Bucking the trends Arizona students score above the national average on the TerraNova test, which measures performance of second through ninth graders in reading, language arts and math. They also score above the national average on the ACT college entrance exam. " People might hear our funding is low and that's true, but our teachers and principals have been doing a great job," Horne said. " If parents go on our Web site they can see excelling and highly per-forming schools. Then they can go to the schools' report cards and read a detailed description of the schools. They will find that any of those schools can compete with any other in the country." Standerfer agrees. She acknowledges the state's low rank in financial support might concern parents moving from other parts of the country with higher amounts of per- pupil funding. But she urges newcomers to Arizona to focus on the performance of the state's students. " When you look at performance of our students we are nowhere near the bottom," Standerfer said. " We do a lot with the resources we have. Our kids get a good education." Accountable education Horne oversees a series of programs to make sure the state's schools are held accountable. Those results then let state officials, parents and teachers know if students are learning what they need to. Through AZ Learns, the state measures how schools perform. A school at the top tier, a place where students exceed on the state's assessments, is labeled " excelling." If a school's students struggle with the test, or don't meet the standards, they might receive an " underperforming" label. Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards, a standards- based test developed by teachers, is another way the state tracks the progress of students
56 2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE education and schools. Throughout their education, students are tested in writing, reading, math and science, and must pass the first three portions to graduate. Arizona's Department of Education also has a program in more than 600 of its schools focused on character educa-tion. The program was formed to help students develop positive character traits as part of their education. The goal is to have the program in all Arizona schools by 2010. " We teach the universal values of trust, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizen-ship," Horne said. " It is taught explicitly and across the curriculum. When kids focus on the elements of character and respect, it has a lot of good benefits." Meeting expectations For Heather Browning, a move in March from Florida to Scottsdale had her anxious about Arizona's schools. She previously enrolled her son, Avery, into private schools and was weary about shifting the 12 year old into the state's educational system. But Browning said she felt relieved after learning more about her son's future school, Ingleside Middle School in the Scottsdale Unified School District. The school is a top- performing school and she said students there looked genuinely happy. " The fact that I'm moving my son into a public school is amazing," Browning said. " I feel very positive about the academics." " We teach the universal values of trust, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship." — Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Seniors at Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix gather one last time.