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Tue, March 19

Tom Horne to continue AIMS fight<BR>

PRESCOTT – Although legislators recently have focused on the state budget, Arizona Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne said they'll likely talk about the AIMS test again once they finish the budget – and he plans to keep up the fight.

Horne visited the tri-city area Tuesday to award a certificate to Bradshaw Mountain Middle School to honor its two-years-in-a-row "excelling" label. He spoke during a luncheon as well.

He has long favored continuing the requirement that students pass the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test for high school graduation and said Tuesday that he doesn't plan to change his stance.

Current law requires students who plan on a 2006 graduation to pass math, reading and writing portions of the AIMS to graduate.

For years, Horne said, schools have passed students on from one grade to the next even if the students do not demonstrate proficiency at the previous grade level.

This "social promotion" results in graduates who "can barely do reading or math."

"The public wants kids to pass a reasonable test," Horne said.

In his discussions with educators, Horne has learned that students seem more motivated now that they know they must pass the AIMS to graduate.

While legislators and educators have discussed the applicability and appropriateness of the math portion of the AIMS test, Horne said he completed that portion and missed only three problems.

"I thought it was reasonable for high school students," he said.

After spending 24 years as a school board member and four years as a legislator on two education-related committees, Horne, also an attorney, became state superintendent of schools just less than three years ago.

Although Horne did not comment on the state budget, which Gov. Janet Napolitano and legislators are set to begin discussing soon, according to an AP story (Napolitano on Monday vetoed most of the bills the legislators proposed), he said he is in favor of all-day kindergarten.

Napolitano's January budget recommendation included money to continue her five-year phase-in of all-day kindergarten, but the legislators' Monday proposal did not. Also, the legislators proposed using existing money to pay for school construction, rather than the borrowed money Napolitano's budget proposed.

"I support all-day kindergarten," Horne said. "My role is to make sure it's academic all-day kindergarten, not all-day babysitting."

Early childhood education is a good investment, Horne said, "because the mind is more flexible when you're young."

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