Horne touts latest AIMS scores
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 21, 2004
Half of high school juniors have passed math portion
Half the members of the Class of
2006 have passed the AIMS math test, the toughest of three sections juniors must
master before they can graduate.
For Tom Horne, Arizona's superintendent of public instruction, the results were
He pointed out that 22 percent of juniors passed math the second time around.
When that's added to students who passed the math section as sophomores, more
than 32,000 students, or just about half of the class, have cleared one of the
biggest hurdles on the path to graduation. Students have three more chances to
take any section of the test.
"That's a very substantial move,"
Horne said of the math results. The Arizona Department of Education released
preliminary results of the fall AIMS retest on Monday. Juniors who had failed
any portion of the test in the spring could retake the test.
Horne is confident that parents and the public are on his side in continuing to
press for the exit exam. It's an argument he plans to make today when he meets
Gov. Janet Napolitano for breakfast.
Napolitano has made it clear she does not support requiring students to pass one
test to receive a high school diploma and will not let thousands of Arizona
students fail to graduate. Napolitano, however, has not presented an alternative
Becky Hill, Napolitano's education adviser, said the governor "won't be a lone
wolf on this issue."
Hill was not impressed with the AIMS retest results and said Napolitano is
waiting for answers from Horne and the Arizona State Board of Education, who
share responsibility for creating school policy.
Retired executive Matthew Diethelm takes over as president of the State Board of
Education in January and was equally gloomy about the fall retest results.
Diethelm and other state board members commissioned a study, a joint project by
the state's three universities, to determine why the AIMS test has stumped so
many high school students. The test is designed to measure how well students are
learning the state's grade-by-grade reading, writing and math skills, which they
should have mastered by their sophomore year.
"We're trying to understand the difference between our expectations and the
results," said Diethelm, who hopes to have more answers by April, when the
study's results are due.
Before those results are available, the state Legislature will reconvene in
January. Some lawmakers are expected to introduce proposals that could change
the testing policy or even eliminate using AIMS as a graduation requirement.
Horne doesn't expect those changes to happen. Polls of parents and the public
show support for making students pass the AIMS test before getting a diploma.
Horne said the opposition in the Legislature is a minority.
"I anticipate there are people who would like to see changes," Horne said. "But
the majority will stick to the course."
Still, there's a long way to go.
Members of the Class of 2006 must pass all three sections of the AIMS test to
receive a high school diploma.
More than half the class retook a portion of the AIMS test in the fall.
Preliminary numbers show that of the 34,000 students who took the math test a
second time, 22 percent passed and 78 percent failed again. Of the 24,000
juniors who retook the reading section, 36 percent passed and 63 percent flunke.
On the writing portion, 23,000 students retook the test, 46 percent passed and
54 percent failed.
The numbers released Monday do not include scores of high school students just
learning English. State officials have not yet calculated how many students have
passed all three sections of the test.
Find the results for your school, your county or the state at