Originally Published: July 14, 2011 10:05 p.m.
Yavapai County students mirrored statewide results on the AIMS test given this past spring, with several schools reporting 100 percent of their students in a specific grade passing the reading portion, and just one school doing that well on the writing test.
AIMS, Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards, is mandatory testing administered to students in grades three through eight and 10th grade, intended to measure how well they have learned reading, writing, science and math skills.
AIMS requires math and reading tests each year; writing tests are given in grades 5, 6, 7 and 10, while science is tested in grades 4, 8 and 10.
The results are used by both the state and federal government to evaluate students' progress in public schools. High schoolers must pass the math, reading and writing sections in order to graduate.
Statewide, 76 percent of students who took the reading assessment passed. That's 3 percent better than 2010 and a 6 percent improvement over 2009.
In Yavapai County, six schools reported that 100 percent of the students in a particular grade who took the reading section passed it. Those schools were Sedona Charter, Franklin Phonetic Primary, Skyview, Tri-City College Prep High, Congress Elementary and American Heritage Academy.
Sunnyside Charter & Montessori School reported the lowest percentage of students passing, 27 percent of 11 who took the test.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said, "Arizona made a strong commitment to improving our students' reading starting in 2002 when we started our 'AZ Reads' program."
The writing test was tougher this year, and it showed in the results. Only 56 percent of Arizona students passed it, down substantially from 2010's 71 percent.
Just one Yavapai County school, Prescott Valley School, reported 100 percent of its students who took the writing test having passed it; that was the fifth-grade class.
Two schools tied for the lowest percentage of students passing the writing assessment: PACE Preparatory Academy (17 percent of the entire student body) and Franklin Phonetic Primary, with 17 percent of third-graders passing it.
"This dip in writing scores was expected," Arizona Department of Education's Roberta Alley said.
Teachers saw a need to raise the bar so students would be better prepared for high school, she said. They added some multiple-choice questions and raised the score needed to pass.
AIMS math scores were up statewide in 2011, with 59 percent passing; that tops 2010's 57 percent percent.
One school in the county reported two classes with 100 percent passing their math section: Congress Elementary School's third- and sixth-grade classes each got a perfect score. Two reported just 10 percent of students passing: Willow Creek Charter's eighth grade and PACE Prep's entire 29-student contingent.
In 2010, the state raised the bar on this test, too, making it more difficult, which is why this year's 59 percent is still well below the 63 percent of a couple of years ago.
In the science section, one county school had a 100 percent passing rate, Skyview, with all 12 students making the grade. Yavapai County High School had the lowest, with 11 percent of 27 passing.
Changes are on the way. In 2014, the AIMS test will be thrown out in favor of a national standardized test, which will allow comparisons of scores on a much larger scale.