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Tue, Aug. 20

Students hit marks

Editor's note: All Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards scores come from the Arizona Department of Education's Web site at Scores are subject to change as a result of ongoing data analysis.

This past spring marked the first time graduating seniors had to pass the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards to graduate.

Although not all local seniors in 2006 passed all three sections of the test in one of their five attempts, district administrators said none failed to graduate solely because of AIMS scores. If they failed the AIMS test, they also failed to meet other high school requirements.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced in May that 98 percent of seniors with the required credits would graduate, according to a July 12 Associated Press story.

Thousands of students across the state took the AIMS, and the Arizona Department of Education on Wednesday released the scores.

Most local students fared well compared with their statewide counterparts, generally performing at or better than the state average on the reading, math and writing portions of the test.

The ADE breaks scores down into four categories: people who fell far below, approached, met or exceeded the standards. Students who met or exceeded the standards, in essence, passed the test.

Each student this year had six opportunities ­ twice during each tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade ­ to take the exam. The Department of Education offered an extra test date for seniors this year, but in general, seniors get only one test date.

Statewide, 69 percent of this past year's sophomores passed the math portion, 77 percent passed reading and 68 percent passed writing. Juniors fared worse with 35 percent passing math, 50 percent passing reading and 45 percent passing writing. Of the seniors, 30 percent passed math, 46 percent passed reading and 43 percent passed writing.

Several local district administrators commented on an apparent discrepancy in writing scores at certain grade levels. For example, Dean Slaga, assistant superintendent at Humboldt Unified School District, said statewide, third graders' 2006 writing scores dropped 20 percentage points from the scores in 2005.

Chino Valley Unified School District

High school students performed pretty much at or below the state average.

Jeff St. Clair, principal of Chino Valley High School, said that all students graduated who met the school's academic requirements and/or AIMS augmentation requirements.

Overall, district math and reading scores improved over the previous year's scores, and writing scores stayed about the same.

"The writing concerns me," he said, adding that because the middle school scores are pretty good, teachers from that school will team with teachers from the high school to improve students' writing.

Also, the high school uses Cougar Academic Teams, which focus on writing-intensive projects, he said.

While middle school math scores are pretty good, high school scores are a little lower, he said, but both sets of students seem to need work in algebra and geometry concepts.

Male students need to improve their mastery of writing standards, and Hispanic students need work in writing and math, St. Clair said.

Highlights: 91 percent of Del Rio Elementary School's fourth-graders passed math, 83 percent passed reading and 84 percent passed writing; 94 percent of sixth- and seventh-graders at Heritage Middle School passed writing. Overall, the district's seventh-graders did well, with 83 percent passing math, 81 passing reading and 94 passing writing.

Humboldt Unified School District

High school students performed just below average in math, just above average in reading and above average in writing.

Dean Slaga, assistant superintendent for the district, said some of the tests show fluctuations, and it's up to district personnel to determine whether those result from internal mechanisms or from fluctuations in the test.

"We are at or above the state average across the board," he said. "We need to constantly improve as we move forward."

A program is now in full swing that helps teachers analyze data and improve strategies for helping students learn in ways that suit their needs.

Teachers will break scores down into the question, student and team/department level to discover where students are excelling and where they need to improve.

Highlights: 90 percent of Liberty Traditional School's sixth-graders passed writing. Of that school's seventh-graders, 98 percent passed writing, 88 percent passed reading and 86 percent passed math. Districtwide, 88 percent of sixth-graders and 86 percent of seventh-graders passed writing.

Mayer UnifiedSchool District

High school students performed below average in math, reading and writing.

Pat Dellabetta, interim superintendent for the district, said these scores represent what was happening in the district a year ago ­ one principal was managing two schools, and the district was going through some tough times.

Since he came on board in August, he said, he's worked to recruit new staff members and to implement programs that more closely monitor each student's academic progress.

Now that the schools have the students' scores back, teachers will break the scores down to see exactly where each student needs to improve.

"We feel good about the future," he said. "We are doing the things we need to do to really shine. The wax is on the shoes, they're just not shining yet."

The changes in the district's programs and staff should help improve scores in the future, he said.

Highlights: 94 percent of the district's seventh-graders and 90 percent of its eighth-graders passed writing.

Prescott Unified School District

High school students performed significantly better than the state average in math, reading and writing.

Overall, the district's scores from 2006 increased 2.4 percent over those from 2005, Kapp said.

"That's what we were looking for," he said, adding that teachers are teaching well, the curriculum is aligned with the standards, parents are supportive and the district's data-based professional development program seems to be working.

Generally PUSD's scores are 10 percent to 20 percent better than the state's average scores, and it's tough to make substantial gains when scores already are high, Kapp said.

"I'm very pleased," he said, "to see that overall, the majority of areas show that more kids met or exceeded standards. We like to see improvement every year."

Highlights: At Abia Judd School, 97 percent of the third-graders passed math, 92 percent passed reading and 88 percent passed math. Of that school's fourth-graders, 96 percent passed math, 93 passed reading and 91 passed math. At Taylor Hicks School, 91 percent of fourth-graders passed math and at Washington Traditional, 94 percent of sixth-graders passed writing.

Districtwide, 81 percent of seventh-graders passed math, 80 passed reading and 92 passed writing.

Charter Schools

Skyview School's students performed above the state average at all grade levels and in all subjects. For example, 100 percent of sixth- and seventh-graders passed the writing portion of the test. Of the eighth graders, 85 percent passed reading and writing and 77 percent passed math.

Sixty-seven percent of third-graders passed the writing portion of the test. Other than that, percentages of children passing all portions of the test were in the high 70s, 80s and 90s.

Ninety percent of Mountain Oak Charter School's third-graders passed both reading and writing and 95 percent of them passed math. Ninety-four percent of the sixth-graders passed reading and writing, and 83 percent passed math. Of fourth-graders, 32 percent passed math and writing and 47 percent passed reading.

At Acorn Montessori School, 92 percent of third-graders passed math, 94 percent passed reading and 25 percent passed writing. Half the sixth-graders passed math, 68 percent passed reading, and 86 percent passed writing.

At Franklin Phonetic School, 98 percent of third-graders passed math and 92 percent passed reading and writing. All sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students passed writing and 96 percent of fifth-graders passed reading.

Of Kestrel High School's sophomores, 69 percent passed math, 65 percent passed reading and 56 percent passed writing. Not enough juniors and seniors took the test for the state to report their scores.

At Tri-City Prep High School, 90 percent of sophomores passed math, 96 percent passed reading and 91 percent passed writing. Of juniors, 91 percent passed reading, and 80 percent passed writing. Too few juniors took the math test and too few seniors took all three portions for the state to report scores.

Of Willow Creek Charter School's sixth-graders, 93 percent passed writing, 70 percent passed reading and 38 percent passed math. Eighty percent of the school's fourth graders passed all three subjects.

At Park View Middle School, 43 percent of eighth-graders passed math, 59 percent passed reading and 77 percent passed writing. Of the seventh-graders, 50 percent passed math, 65 percent passed reading and 75 percent passed writing. Of sixth-graders, 58 percent passed math, 70 percent passed reading and 80 percent passed writing.

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