The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) this past week released the results of the Stanford 9 Achievement Test (SAT9) that students took this past spring, and Tuesday it released the results of the Arizona Instrument for Measuring Standards (AIMS) the students took during the same semester.
The SAT9, a norm-referenced test, measures students against one another on a national level. Students in grades two through nine take the test. The ADE expresses scores in terms of percentiles. The 50th percentile represents a student or group of students who scored at the national average.
The AIMS, a criterion-referenced test, measures students against a standard on a state level. Students in grades three, five, eight, 10, 11 and 12 take the test. The graduating class of 2006 must pass the AIMS to graduate. The ADE expresses scores in terms of how a student measures up to a standard: for example, "falls far below the standard," "approaches the standard," "meets the standard" and "exceeds the standard."
Local educators Tuesday and Wednesday shared their thoughts about their students' scores on each test.
Chino Valley Unified School District:
Teachers in the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) spent the past school year preparing their students for the AIMS test, and Supt. Linda Nelson said the learning spread.
At the third-grade level, teachers at Territorial Elementary School used a special program designed to emphasize math. At the eighth-grade level, educators implemented a 70-percent-passes scoring system and at the 10th-grade level, educators focused on reading.
Overall, the district's scores improved between spring 2003 and spring 2004, Nelson said.
Eighty-two percent of Territorial Elementary School's third-graders met or exceeded the standard for mathematics, 89 percent for reading and 88 percent for writing. Sixty-four percent of Del Rio Elementary's third-graders met or exceeded the standard for math, 72 for reading and 88 for writing.
The high school students didn't fare as well, with 47 percent of 10th0graders falling far below the math standard and 25 percent approaching it, 15 percent falling below the reading standard and 18 percent approaching it, and 24 percent falling below the writing standard and 18 percent approaching it. Students who were in the 10th grade during the 2003-04 school year will have to pass the AIMS to graduate.
Seventy-five percent of 11th-grade students fell below the math standard and 14 percent approached it, 42 percent fell below the reading standard and 34 percent approached it and 56 percent fell below the writing standard and 19 percent approached it.
The district's seventh graders averaged in the 50th percentile for math on the SAT9 and the rest of the students averaged above that, into the high seventies, for math, reading and language.
Ninth-graders scored in the 28th percentile for language, the 37th percentile for reading and the 52nd percentile for math. Nelson said the ninth-grade test typically gives students more trouble than the tests in second through eighth grade, which is the reason the district implemented the 70-percent-passing rule for eighth graders.
"We're assuming this year we'll see a dramatic improvement," Nelson said of the freshmen who participated in the ninth-grade transition program last year. "We know our kids can do it."
Humboldt Unified School District:
"We've been moving up and things have been positive," said Dean Slaga, the curriculum and grants director and testing coordinator for Humboldt Unified.
"Our district has added emphasis on testing," he said, "and it's paid off."
On average, Humboldt Unified's third-graders performed above average on the AIMS. 65 percent of them met or exceeded math standards, 75 percent of them exceeded reading standards and 84 percent met or exceeded writing standards.
That district's fifth-graders averaged 45 percent meeting or exceeding standards in math, 53 percent in reading and 59 percent in writing. The eighth-graders averaged 22 percent meeting or exceeding math scores, 57 percent in reading and 65 percent in writing.
Forty-nine percent of 10th-graders met or exceeded math standards, 68 percent in reading and 65 percent in writing.
"Every single score in the district is at or above the state level," Slaga said.
While he said the students have generally performed well on the AIMS, he said the ADE may have to do some "tweaking" of the test because it's more difficult at some levels than it is at others. He said the state Board of Education is meeting Monday to discuss that issue.
The Humboldt Unified School District personnel identified 10th-graders who didn't pass the AIMS and placed them in remedial classes for the first nine weeks of this school year to boost their skills for the test, Slaga said.
In language, the students at Humboldt Unified who took the SAT9 scored about average or a little above, ranging from the 44th (sixth- graders) to the 56th (third-, seventh- and eighth-grader) percentile.
In reading, students for the most part scored in the high 50s in reading and the high fifties and low 60s in math.
Liberty Traditional School's third-graders had the district's two highest scores – they scored in the 78th percentile for math and the 76th percentile for language (and the 68th percentile for reading).
Liberty's second-graders scored in the 37th percentile in language and the 44th percentile in math. Mountain View Elementary's second-graders scored in the 39th percentile in language.
Slaga said the SAT9 scores basically are a moot point because the state will implement a new test next year, which will combine the norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests so students have to test only once per year.
However, he said, student scores on the SAT9 have continued to improve year after year.
Mayer Unified School District:
"This is exciting news for us," said Supt. Jim Nelson.
"Every year that our students at Mayer have taken the tests," he said, "they have improved."
Faculty members have researched and written for grants to pay for staff development, Nelson said, so they could teach students the standards. Nelson said the AIMS and SAT9 test scores reflect that staff development.
"I'm very proud of the staff," Nelson said. "They take this very seriously."
Third-grade students at Mayer Unified scored better on the AIMS test than did the older students in the district.
Eighty-one percent of third-graders met or exceeded standards in math, 88 percent did so in reading and 82 percent in writing. Thirty-nine percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded the standards in math, 43 percent in reading and 40 percent in writing. Twenty-nine percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded math standards, 59 percent in reading and 57 percent in writing.
Thirty-eight percent of 10th-grade students, who must pass to graduate, met or exceeded math standards, 65 percent in reading and 64 percent in writing. Twelve percent of 11th-graders met or exceeded math standards and 40 percent in reading (The ADE withheld the scores of the five students who took the writing portion to protect their privacy.) Five percent of 12th-grade students met or exceeded math standards and 25 percent in reading.
Nelson said he's confident that most of the 10th-graders at Mayer High School will pass the AIMS and graduate. He cited significant gains in many of the testing areas.