Originally Published: August 1, 2005 5 a.m.
(This is the second in a three-day series on local students' results on the AIMS and Terra Nova tests.)
This year's graduating seniors represent the first class that must pass a standardized test under state law to graduate.
For the most part, local students will meet that challenge.
The test – the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) – measures students' knowledge of the state standards.
During the past couple of years, lawmakers and educators have argued about whether requiring students to pass one type of test is fair. For example, a Tuesday Associated Press story reports that a group of people have filed a class-action lawsuit against the state, asking a federal judge to give English Language Learners an AIMS waiver.
Statewide, administrators have implemented various programs to help teachers prepare their students for the test, and a group of educators also has made some changes to the scores required to pass the test.
AIMS scores represent the percentage of students who fell far below, approached, met or exceeded state standards for their grade level.
Chino Valley Unified School District
Many of this year's seniors at Chino Valley High School will have to re-take at least one portion of the AIMS test to get their diplomas.
Fifty-nine percent of those who took the math and reading portions of the test during spring 2005 passed them and 38 percent passed the writing portion.
Of those who took the test in 2004 (they were sophomores at the time), 28 percent passed the math portion, 67 percent passed the reading portion and 58 percent passed the writing portion.
Since they entered high school, this year's sophomores (the class of 2008) have had to earn 70 percent in their high school classes to pass.
Jeffry St. Clair, CVHS principal, said the school offers an academic standards course, which students who aren't meeting standards must take to supplement their core classes.
In his first year as principal at CVHS, St. Clair said he currently is assessing the school's situation and is forming goals for standards-based teacher instruction that will promote "higher thinking skills."
Students also will undergo regular assessment to determine how well they're mastering standards they'll see on the AIMS, St. Clair said.
"We're working aggressively to keep the numbers of students in those core academic classes low," St. Clair said of freshman academic core classes. "Right now the average is 30 and getting that down to 25 is ideal."
"We'll assess students after two weeks and then move them to academic standards courses."
Humboldt Unified School District
Sophomores at Bradshaw Mountain High School (BMHS) did very well in math, reading and writing on their AIMS test scores, and Supt. Henry Schmitt said, "Our high school was head and shoulders above how we did last year."
A low percentage of sophomores fell below the standards, and on average, 80 percent met or exceeded state standards, 90 percent did the same in reading and 79 percent met or exceeded standards in writing.
Juniors also did very well, with 74 percent meeting or exceeding standards in math, 82 percent in reading and 68 percent in writing, but, with a significant amount of students not meeting the standards, there is still need for improvement, Schmitt said.
"We're pleased with the progress we've made, but until we reach the top, we're not satisfied," he added.
To do this, Schmitt said teachers will help individual students in "trailer courses" designed to provide tutoring and one-on-one attention "for kids who are struggling."
He said the overall goal is to keep improving AIMS scores at the high school, and they plan on "bumping that up with more student success and achievement."
Mayer Junior/Senior High school has seen vast improvements over the past few years, MUSD Interim Supt. Jim Dean said.
On average, more than 80 percent of sophomores met or exceeded the state standards in reading and writing.
"This is above the county and state average," he said.
While they did well in certain areas, a significant
number of juniors fell far below the standards, which Dean said he plans on improving over the next year.
While too few juniors and seniors took the test in reading and writing to report to the state, students in these grades did not do very well in math.
Forty-three percent of sophomores who took the math test met or exceeded the state standards, but 43 percent fell far below the standards. Also, only 17 percent of seniors who took the math test met or exceeded the state standards, and 52 percent fell far below.
Dean said students in the elementary and junior/senior high need improvement in math, "so we will work harder in this area. I was very pleased with the reading and writing scores, but one of our top goals will be to increase the math scores."
Prescott Unified School District
Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the students who took the AIMS as juniors this past year passed the test.
Those who didn't will have several opportunities to get help doing so.
The scores from 2005 are basically on par with those from 2004, when 56 percent of then-10th-graders passed the math portion, 79 percent passed the reading and 65 percent passed the writing.
Every Wednesday, PUSD will release its students early to allow time for teachers to participate in professional development.
PUSD Supt. Kevin Kapp said about one-third of that professional development will seek to help teachers teach to the state standards (the other two-thirds will focus on creating professional learning communities and data-driven
"At the high school level," he said, "students are taking the test more seriously because they know their graduation depends on it."
As it has in past years, some of the time during early-release Wednesdays will allow students to get extra AIMS-related instruction.
• Excel Education Centers' Chino Valley 10th-graders: 55 percent met or exceeded math standards, 67 percent met or exceeded reading standards and 59 percent met or exceeded writing standards.
• Excel Education Centers' Prescott Valley 10th-graders: 12 percent met or exceeded math standards, 38 percent met or exceeded reading standards and 20 percent met or exceeded writing standards.
• Although too few 10th-grade students at Excel Education Centers' Prescott location took the math and reading portions of the AIMS for the state to report, 36 percent of them passed the writing portion.
• Kestrel High School's 10th-graders: 75 percent passed the math portion, 79 percent passed the reading portion and 64 percent passed the writing portion. Fifty-eight percent of the juniors passed the math portion and 64 percent passed the writing portion. Too few students took the reading portion for the state to report scores. Too few seniors took the AIMS for the state to report scores.
• PACE Preparatory Academy 's 10th-graders: 36 percent passed math, 38 percent passed reading and too few took the writing for the state to report scores.
• Tri-City Prep's 10th-graders: 91 percent passed the math portion, 92 percent passed the reading portion and 90 percent passed the writing. Of the school's eleventh graders, 93 percent passed the math portion, 97 percent passed the reading portion and 95 percent passed the writing portion. Of the school's seniors, 64 percent passed math, 79 percent passed reading and 73 percent passed writing.
• Tri-City Vo-Tech High School's 10th-graders: 33 percent passed math, 40 percent passed reading and 13 percent passed writing.
• Yavapai County High School's 10th-graders: zero percent passed the math portion, 43 percent passed the reading portion and 36 percent passed the writing portion. Thirty-six percent of the school's 11th-graders passed the math portion of the aims and too few took the other two portions for the state to report their scores. Too few seniors took the test for the state to report scores.