Steve Goldstein: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Steve Goldstein, filling in for Ted Simons. Today at the state capitol, a study committee met to examine a new way of funding public education. It will consider funding schools based on how students perform academically. Joining me are two state representatives who serve on the outcome-based education funding study committee. Its co-chairman, Chester Crandell, a Republican from Heber who a former superintendent of the northern Arizona vocational institute of technology. And Democrat Lynne Pancrazi, a retired teacher from Yuma. Welcome to you both.
Chester Crandell: Thank you very much.
Steve Goldstein: Let's talk about why you thought the committee was a good idea.
Chester Crandell: Well, when I first got to state legislature, determined like all legislators that education needed to be reformed and 30 years in the industry of educating kids, I thought we needed to take a look at the funding. We spent time on raising the standards and looking at different ways to assess those standards and do those things, but never really taken a look at how we fund those. And so, our model today is we fund based on seat time. As long as the student is in the seat for 180 days, that's what the districts build their budget on so we do a good job of tracking students to make sure they're in the seat but don't do a good job of determines what the students actually know when they move from one grade level to the other and I use the statistics we have that only 40% of eighth graders in the state of Arizona are reading at grade level. So the idea is to move to a free enterprise model that we pay for a product or something that we want students to be able to do when they graduate.
Steve Goldstein: Representative, any red flags jump out for you?
Lynne Pancrazi: Of course, education is changing and how we deliver education is changing and the requirements and rules and regulations on education are changing and it's moving toward outcome-based which is what a child knows at the end of a grading period -- a grading period or end of a school year and that's the direction that education is taking nationwide. I think we're looking at, is a way that Arizona can move in that direction and kids will still be kids and you're still going to have to teach them and help them learn, but your base pay and then performance on top of that.
Steve Goldstein: Kids are so unique in and of themselves and there's talk of having focused learning. Depending on his other her talents, how difficult or complex does it take to if you go out what a student does need to know when a class is done.
Chester Crandell: That's part of the charge of the committee, to actually decide based on survey or based on talking with business and industry and the state of Arizona, what is it that students should be able to do when they graduate from school. That would make them successful in the jobs and things that are available in the state of Arizona and not only the state of Arizona, I don't think we're much more unique than any other state. If we can be successful as employees in the state of Arizona, we should be pretty -- pretty successful in those kind of jobs in any state we go. I don't think Arizona is that much more unique in the jobs we offer. But we're not getting to that level. If you talk to employers, students are not prepared. They don't read well or cipher well and don't have the math skills to do what they need to do and we need -- I think we need to go back and through survey, or whatever the case may be, the committee needs to decide from the state of Arizona, the business community and that, what is it that students need to be able to do and work backwards from that, as to what price we put in paying that.
Lynne Pancrazi: And my emphasis is on early childhood. I really feel like a child needs to know how to read, write and do math and if you don't learn it in K-3, once they go to fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, they fall farther behind, so my emphasis on this committee is make sure we're looking at K-3 and whether the children are achieving what they need to achieve to be able to learn more. You know, you can't learn if you can't read.
Steve Goldstein: What does the AIMS test fit in on this.
Chester Crandell: Well that’s one of the things we take a look at. There's already a group works together. Arizona accepted the common core standards and became a part and working on an assessment that goes with the common core standards and that's what we need to look at. How, what the state has done, how does that fit into the accountability system and put it into a free enterprise model to be able to pay for that outcome from one grade level to the next and I agree with representative Pancrazi, these basic skills of being able to read, we need to start in the first grade, kindergarten, whatever the case might be but we tail off that, when they're in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade and students that may be a little bit behind and never assess it again and, therefore, when they get to be seniors, we're not where we need to be and just using reading at grade level as one of the outcomes, that should be assessed all the way through so that students when they graduate, we know for a fact they are reading at grade level which will open up a whole new world for the students to be successful and become independent learners.
Steve Goldstein: How much does the AIMS test come into play? There are many who don't buy into it.
Lynne Pancrazi: When the AIMS test was put into place and you excelled, you got a full ride scholarship to college and that was an incentive for students to do well on that AIMS test. But you know, teachers can teach to any test you want them to get kids to be able to pass it. But I know in the elementary grades they have dibbles and all of this weekly testing that they do or evaluating they do to make sure that kids are moving in the right direction. To get to where they need to be, which is on grade level. You know? And with this outcome based is looking at education as an investment whereas, right now, we look at education as an expense and that's why I wanted to serve with Chester on this committee, because he and I agree on education as an investment and so that's where I hope we're headed and that's where we're headed, making education an investment for our state and seeing a way we can fund that to make sure every child learns.
Steve Goldstein: Add to that, representative Crandall.
Chester Crandell: She's right, education is an investment and ought to treat it like any other business that we go into. It's an investment, we put money into it, but also pay for the outcome we get. We pay for the product at the end and I think that's the key thing we need to take a look at. Going back to looking at the AIMS test, the AIMS test is written at the sophomore level, of course, we're satisfied with students being at the sophomore level when they get out of school, I think we have some very low expectations of our students being there. Now, you know, the scores and things that are there and how we augment those is something that, you know, a lot of people take a look at and we criticize a lot. I criticize a lot because even though a student excels on the AIMS test in the reading portion of that, you still have students that are going to the university or community college that cannot pass the placement test to be able to enter in and get into the level of classes they should be and then we have remediation to be able to get the students there.
Lynne Pancrazi: Yeah.
Chester Crandell: There's a poor correlation -- there's a poor correlation between what we use as assessment and what's required by the universities and the community colleges to allow our students to be in. And so we need to cross that gap so it's the same.
Lynne Pancrazi: For those listeners that don't understanding, when you go to community college or university, you have to take a placement test before you get to be put in college algebra, before you get put in language arts 101, all of those -- they have a placement test for those if you take the test and don't pass them, you have to take remediation to get to that point. A lot of kids are on scholarship and they use that money for the remediation classes and out of scholarship money when it comes to -- and that's why we're finding a lot of kids are dropping out of the university because they run out of money. By doing this, outcome-based hopefully this will encourage or prevent kids from having to take remediation and the money is drying up -- drawing -- running out. For the community colleges, as far as that money -- we have to do something.
Steve Goldstein: That will have to be the last word. Thank you very much for the great discussion.
Lynne Pancrazi: Thank you.