Posted on February 11, 2016 • Category: The Education We Need
The Move On When Ready (MOWR) Five Year Celebration event on February 10, 2016 was attended by the who’s who of Arizona’s community, business and education leadership circles and they all agreed this anniversary was just the beginning of a lifelong learning opportunity for students, educators and all young people seeking a high-quality education in Arizona.
Along with CFA’s Chairman, Dr. Lattie Coor and Executive Director, Dr. Sybil Francis, attendees included Governor Doug Ducey, Retired Supreme Court Justice Ruth McGregor, ASU President Michael Crow, President of the Arizona Board of Regents Eileen Klein, Arizona Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Hamer, Helios Education Foundation CEO Paul Luna, Paradise Community College President Dr. Paul Dale, former news anchor and current Arizona Community Foundation Advisor Kim Covington, State Board of Education President Greg Miller and many others.
The event even hosted a guest from as far away as London, with the Chief Executive of Cambridge International Examinations, Michael O’Sullivan in attendance and yet, it was the more than 100 Arizona students and educators who headlined the show.
In 2010, Move On When Ready was created to support a student-centered, personalized learning approach to ensure every student leaves high school ready for success in college and career. The concept was simple: students would be able to earn a diploma, the Grand Canyon Diploma, based on mastery of subjects and not “seat time.”
The event kicked off with comments from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey who reiterated, “college readiness – not seat time – should be the measure of student success.” He committed to doing everything in his power to ensure student-centered education is the standard in Arizona. He celebrated the huge gains and outcomes the 26,000 plus students who have participated in Move On When Ready. And, he recognized that “MOWR is a five-year success story that is still being written.”
Jason Dougal of the National Center on Education and the Economy congratulated Arizona on its successful implementation of the Move On When Ready program.
Next, a panel of students and educators was moderated by Dr. Amanda Burke, Sr. Director of Education for CFA. The group, consisting of two high school students, two teachers and a principal shared firsthand how Move On When Ready had impacted their lives and the schools they went to each day. Dr. Burke told the crowd that graduating from high school in Arizona does not mean a student is read for college and career, however thanks to Move On When Ready the two students on stage were prepared.
Maddie, a senior at Imagine Prep Surprise stated that she was already taking community college courses while still in high school and had been accepted into ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism. She talked about how well prepared she felt to enter college because of the rigor of Cambridge and the Move On When Ready program. Maddie also recently learned she qualified for the ASU President's Scholarship, making college a financial reality.
Arianda, a senior from Yuma High School, said, “I don’t fear AP or college courses any more. In fact, Cambridge made my AP classes even easier then I expected.”
Jack Vermeer, a teacher at ASU Prep Academy told the audience, “Move On When Ready is about having success-focused, not failure-focused conversations with students. He applauded the Cambridge assessments and noted that "they were not a pass/fail tool but rather a snapshot of what students know.”
After being an educator for 25 years, Margaret Smith of Lee Williams High School in Kingman noted that, “Cambridge gives teachers freedom to teach again and it’s like coming home.”
For Dysart High School, where Move On When Ready has been implemented school-wide, Principal Amy Hartjen said that once parents understand the differences, they support the effort. She stated, “I tell parents, school doesn’t have to look like it did when we were young. And if kids are going to succeed in the 21st century, it can’t.”
Following the student and educator panel was Michael O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Cambridge International Examinations. In his traditional English accent, O’Sullivan told the crowd, “I do love the energy in Phoenix. I won’t be able to get to the Grand Canyon but I am just as pleased to celebrate the Grand Canyon Diploma.”
He went on to say that education is what happens in the heads and hearts of students and any successful education system must start with the heart of the learner. And, as well as being learner-centric, he noted that an excellent education needed to be teacher-centric. He explained, “This is why Cambridge champions rich teacher development. Teachers need to be skilled professionals and a good teacher always wishes to refine their practice.”
Mr. O’Sullivan closed his remarks with the idea that, “we want our students to be ready for life, not just college and we must teach these skills together. One will not succeed without the other.”
Paul Luna moderated a distinguished panel consisting of Dr. Paul Dale, Eileen Klein and Glenn Hamer. This discussion focused why Move On When Ready matters to Arizona’s higher education community and the success of our state’s economy.
Ms. Klein began the discussion with the insight that “fewer then half of Arizona students who graduate high school ARE ready for college and career, however, students CAN be.”
Mr. Hamer talked about his experience meeting with the Arizona business community during the great recession and although thousands of Arizonans were out of work, there was still a huge need for qualified workers. “There was a gap in the system,” he stated. “However, in Arizona one thing we do well in Arizona is work together. Business, education and political leaders are all collaborating to address this gap.”
Dr. Dale of Paradise Community College recounted a story from a student who approached him on campus one day and said, “my welfare is in your hands.” He told the crowd, “I take this responsibility seriously.”
The celebration then transitioned into a recognition of students who had earned the Grand Canyon Diploma, the STEM Advanced Diploma, and top Cambridge Learners from Arizona.
ASU President Dr. Crow welcomed the crowd of nearly 250 students, parents and community members with a keynote address that inspired everyone, young and old, in the room.
He told the students, “It is an honor to be in the room with you. You represent the new age learner. You’re the newer millenials, and I like to call you - millenial.net. You have a value system built around public service. You are more interested in community outcomes then your own personal outcomes. And, you are empowered and challenged in a way that no human beings have been so challenged.”
He concluded his talk with comparing the journey of education to the study of karate and that only when you become a black belt do you actually become a student of the art. He said, “You leave here as master learners. You are not ending a process. You are beginning a process."
He congratulated the students on their accomplishments to date and challenged them to keep going. “You have your black belt. Now its time to fight. Fight to continue learning. Use this moment and this day to commit yourself to be master learners and to keep going.”
The day’s activities ended with congratulatory remarks from State Board of Education President Greg Miller who recognized the Grand Canyon Diploma recipients and students working on a more advanced STEM Diploma.
Michael O’Sullivan addressed the crowd again to congratulate all the students and summarized well, the master learners in the room. He said, “You are confident. You are responsible. You are reflective. You are innovative. And, you are engaged. Well done on your brilliant achievements. And as Dr. Crow said earlier – now get out there and fight!”
Dr. Sybil Francis closed the program by committing that CFA would also take the challenge of becoming a master and continue fighting on behalf of Arizona students.