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Tue, March 19

AIMS: Charter schools crunch test numbers

Local charter school officials are pleased with their school's AIMS results (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards).

The students in Prescott-area charter schools took the same AIMS test this past spring as public education students. AIMS tests third- through eighth-grade and 10th-grade students in math, reading and writing. Fourth-, eighth- and 10th-grade students also take a science test.

At Franklin Phonetic in Prescott Valley, Vice Principal David Good said the kindergarten through eighth-grade school is "excelling for the fifth year in a row. However, we always try to improve."

Good said school officials realize they could improve their math scores.

"Franklin is a phonics-based school, so our reading and writing scores are always high. We are introducing a macro-math (Rodell) program to help our students improve their math scores."

At Yavapai County Fair Association Achieve Academy, the eighth-grade writing scores were the only ones to exceed state and county scores.

Achieve Academy closed its doors at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Before school officials made that decision, Achieve Superintendent Gary Spiker said he had analyzed the school's AIMS scores and "was really going to work on them this year. I had a plan in place if we had stayed open, but with only 66 students and three years of not meeting the standards, it was not feasible."

At Kestrel High School, Principal Sue Foglia said Kestrel is a performing school, which means it made annual progress.

At Mingus Springs, a K-8 charter school in Chino Valley, testing coordinator Julie Bradshaw said Mingus Springs is a performing plus school.

"Overall, our AIMS scores are good," said Bradshaw.

Like other school officials who say they always have room for improvement, Bradshaw said Mingus Springs would use the AIMS information to "identify weak areas in the curriculum. Also, we will use the information to identify individual students who may need help."

Bradshaw said school officials would look at the school's "strong areas to see how we can replicate in other areas."

Skyview is a K-8 charter school in Prescott.

Director Scott McCreery said the school met its yearly progress, "which is excelling. We had growth in every area at every level."

McCreery said the AIMS scores validate the efforts Skyview teachers made this past year to improve student achievement.

However, McCreery said, "There is always work to do."

At Tri-City College Preparatory in Prescott, guidance counselor Karen Norris said that by the time students graduate, the school usually has a 100 percent (AIMS) pass rate.

"Not all the students pass the tests the first time they take them, but by the time they are seniors, they might have taken the test(s) five times," Norris said. "We have a lot of 'exceeds' in math and science."

Norris said the school uses the AIMS results to determine weak areas in the curriculum.

"It has gone back and forth. One year it was writing and we worked on that and the scores are up. Now, we will focus of reading - probably critical reading. We are looking at excelling. We are not happy with just meeting the standards," Norris said.


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