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Mon, Nov. 18

State board OKs combining AIMS, Stanford 9 tests

PHOENIX – The Arizona State Board of Education has given the green light to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne's plan to reduce by half the amount of classroom time devoted to standardized testing.

The "embedded AIMS" test will combine elements of the national Stanford 9 exam with Arizona's AIMS test, meaning that students will face only one standardized exam per year instead of two.

Kevin Kapp, Prescott Unified School District superintendent, said this is a victory for public school students.

"We had serious concerns over the amount of time necessary for testing, and any combining of tests obviously is a victory for our students and instructors," Kapp said prior to state board approval.

Henry Schmitt, superintendent of the Humboldt Unified School District is in favor of combining the tests and cutting the amount of student testing time

"If embedding both the Sat 9 and AIMS will maintain the integrity of the Sat 9 and the criterion reference AIMS test, we, as a district are good with that, because it will save at least one week of testing of our students who I believe are over-tested at this point," Schmitt said. "Therefore, we can utilize that week for classroom instruction by our teachers."

Horne said that when the new test takes effect, there will be more time devoted to classroom instruction.

"When combined with student accountability, school accountability, and an intensive school improvement process, we expect to be able to help students learn substantially more, and demonstrate this with higher test scores," Horne said.

Linda Nelson, Chino Valley Unified School District superintendent and a member of Horne's advisory committee, said she supports the "Embedded AIMS" test.

"My hunch is, this approval is supported by the entire Arizona education community," Nelson said. "We don't want to over-test and burn out our kids."

Horne said Arizona will lose nothing under the new testing, but will gain much.

"We will lose none of the benefits of comparing students to their peers throughout the country, but more emphasis will be placed on Arizona's content standards, which are highly regarded nationally," Horne said. "This will also increase the opportunity for students to learn the content for which they're being held responsible in order to graduate from high school."

Nelson agrees.

"In this world, we would want to know that students are learning as they should be," she said.

The Department of Education will now ask testing companies to write an exam that, pending board approval, can either be fully implemented in the 2004-05 school year or be partially field-tested that year with full implementation in 2005-06.

Contact the reporter at ckniola@prescottaz.com.

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