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3/28/2012 6:00:00 AM
Kingman parents, students receive a course on Cambridge Prep
AHRON SHERMAN/MinerState Sen. Rich Crandall tells an auditorium full of parents and students that it’s time to expect, demand and strive for more when it comes to education.

State Sen. Rich Crandall tells an auditorium full of parents and students that it’s time to expect, demand and strive for more when it comes to education.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - State Sen. Rich Crandall presented Kingman Unified's Cambridge Preparatory Academy to a large audience of parents and students, and his message was clear: It's time for schools to stop focusing on minimizing failure.

Crandall, who co-sponsored the Move on When Ready legislation, along with the people in charge of implementing the initiative at the state and local levels held a parents' information night Monday at White Cliffs Middle School. After a couple of presentations, parents and students who attended were given the chance to ask questions.

The Cambridge program - which KUSD is preparing to pilot in the fall at WCMS, Kingman Middle School and Lee Williams High School - offers a rigorous and relevant curriculum that prepares students for the Grand Canyon Diploma, the basis of Move on When Ready, and opens academic pathways designed to prepare students for careers and college.

Crandall spoke of two of the major issues with education in Arizona: Too much focus on the Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards and faulty beliefs regarding time.

First, AIMS compares test scores of Arizona students to test scores of Arizona students, and it's based on minimal standards.

"What's the problem with comparing yourself to yourself?" Crandall asked, answering his own question by adding that it creates a skewed perception of reality.

Next, why should students be stuck in a particular class for 180 days if they can learn it in 90? Likewise, why should students take four years of math if they can learn what's needed in three, he added. Allowing students to learn as fast as they're able to will free up time for other academic opportunities, Crandall said.

This is where Move on When Ready and the Cambridge program come into play because the standards would be raised and student achievement would be compared nationally and internationally, he said. The program also allows students to accelerate their learning, opening pathways to colleges, universities and careers sooner rather than later.

For instance, the Grand Canyon Diploma, which can be earned as early as 10th-grade, allows kids to enter into a community college, a technical school or remain in high school to take advanced course work designed to prepare him or her for a four-year university.

To earn the diploma, students must pass several board examinations tied to the academy in math, science, English, history and fine arts.

The advanced curriculum also prepares students for the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs in the latter two years of high school.

Crandall said KUSD will be the first rural district in the state to implement the program, and added that the first year or so may be a bit rocky, as it will take time for students to acclimate to the more rigorous methods of learning.

"Look for big things two to four years from now," he said.

The hope of the district is to start with the pilot and grow the program from there, so that at some point it's offered to all students.

Many who attended asked questions regarding the academy.

One parent wanted to know more about the methods of instruction for students within the program.

Katy Cavanaugh, a member of the National Council on Education and the Economy with 30 plus years of teaching experience, explained that Cambridge changes the whole instructional system.

"Memorization is just one piece of education," she said. "(Cambridge offers students a) much deeper level of thinking, analyzing and questioning."

One parent wanted to understand the schedule better.

Students' schedules will look largely the same. It's just that four of their classes will come from the Cambridge program and be taught by teachers trained accordingly. For example, all students take an English class, but students within the academy will take Cambridge English. Students will still be able to take electives - not tied to Cambridge - of their choosing as well.

One person wanted to know if the Cambridge program is set up to accept new technologies.

"Technology is a tool in any program," Cavanaugh said.

But technology doesn't change the material being taught; it merely changes how the material is being learned, she said.

Several students wanted to know if the Grand Canyon Diploma is as good as a traditional high school diploma and how it can help get them into college.

Amanda Burke from the Center for the Future of Arizona said the GCD is equivalent to a high school diploma. A student with a GCD should be able to attend a community college without needing remediation, she said. But as far as getting students into a university straight out of high school, the GCD is just one step. Students will still need AP or IB classes, but earning a GCD opens pathways for them to take those types of classes, she said.

Through the presentations and answered questions, parents and students learned that the Cambridge program is a way for them to expect and strive for more academically.

More information regarding the program as well as pertinent documents can be found on the home page of KUSD's website, Also, the deadline for students to apply for the program has been extended to Tuesday.

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Related Stories:
• Kingman students vie for spots in Move On When Ready
• Cambridge Prep offers Kingman students a more rigorous path

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012
Article comment by: Jonathan Lunneberg

I commented on this article within a few hours of the time it was posted online, yet it hasn't shown up yet on the website. Is the Miner a big supporter of the Senator I criticized, or are you just incompetent.

Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Article comment by: answer to your question

@ diploma question
The answer to that is yes. It is still a high school diploma but it wont be from Kingman High School. Just like if you graduated from a podunk high school in a town that no one knows, it is still a high school diploma. They also answered this question at the Q & A Monday night if you were there.

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Article comment by: KUSD Parent

Excited for this program to get going in Kingman - thank you KUSD for believing in, and not under-estimating our kids!

Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Article comment by: diploma question

Upon graduation the child will receive a Grand Canyon diploma instead of diploma from the state of arizona. I like to know if this diploma will be accepted and recognized by other states, if my child decides to go into the working field immediately after high school in another state or the military.

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