Arizona schools chief wants new assessment test gone

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona's new schools chief on Wednesday called on the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey to ditch a new school standards test adopted less than three months ago.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas told the House education committee that implementing a new test in less than six months isn't fair to students. She said standards are changed every seven to 10 years, leaving students and teachers exhausted and school districts broke.

"Once again, our precious children are being used as guinea pigs to advance an education agenda," Douglas said. "I call on this Legislature and the Governor to stop the madness and start to put our children first."

Douglas called the state of education in Arizona poor, citing the state's 47th overall ranking in the annual "Education Week" state rankings.

She said the state can't recruit and retain good teachers because it offers salaries that are lower than all but eight states.

"Without experienced, highly effective teachers in each Arizona classroom, our students struggle to succeed," she said.

Douglas is a Republican who campaigned for office on ending the state's new Common Core school standards.

She said in a brief interview after her state of education presentation that she wants to do away not only with the new standards test but Common Core standards that were adopted by the Board of Education in 2010 and are now being fully implemented.

"I was referring ... to the test in particular, the way it's been done in the short time frame, but I think in the campaign I made it very clear I was no fan of Common Core," Douglas said.

The board, which Douglas now is a member of, selected a Washington-based organization to provide the state's new assessment test on Nov. 3. Douglas said the test is expected to be rolled out in the next 10 weeks.

"We're using an unproven test that was put together within weeks," Douglas said. "That is madness. That is not fair to our Arizona students."