Bioscience High rates 1st in AIMS math
Arizona Republic
Aug 7, 2008


by Betty Reid

For the first time, a school in Phoenix Union High School District topped the best AIMS math test results among high schools in the Valley.

Bioscience High School, which had its first group of 10th-graders take the AIMS test last spring, led the pack with 97 percent of its students passing the math portion on their first try. In comparison, only 54 percent of 10th-graders in Phoenix Union passed the AIMS math test.

"We poured all we learned into the AIMS math test," said Samantha Enriquez, a junior at Bioscience High School.

"I hope a lot of people and students will realize now that our method works. The school is a hidden gem in Phoenix."

Officials also said sophomore scores at Bioscience are the second-highest performing in high schools in Arizona. University High sophomores in Tucson scored 100 percent.

"We were not surprised because it validated what this school can be and will be," said Craig Pletenik, a Phoenix Union spokesman. "It's a tradition of excellence that we now started and hope to continue, and the next goal is to be Number 1 in the state."

The news pleased Mayor Phil Gordon, who has stayed on top of the district's small-school development especially at Bioscience High, with its focus on math and science. Gordon plans to visit the school today to recognize students.

The city gave a $2.4 million grant to Bioscience in June that will support a medical-science school in the McKinley building on the Bioscience campus, 512 E. Pierce St., where it has been housed since October.

It is located in the heart of a downtown Phoenix biomedical campus that includes the global headquarters of Translational Genomics Research Institute, the University of Arizona medical school and the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative, a joint research endeavor of the state's three universities.

Bioscience has about 200 freshmen through juniors, and a senior class will be added.

Phoenix Union officials said the AIMS success shows that Bioscience's rigorous curriculum works. Freshmen take a two-hour class that combines physics and algebra. As sophomores, they combine two hours of chemistry and biology.

As juniors, students are expected to meet all state standards in science to graduate and still have two years to study careers in which they have an interest, including engineering, forensics, anatomy, environmental science or medicine.

In social studies, students learn about issues they can explore in science courses. This strengthens their writing skills in English.

Art, music and language classes also are offered.

Bioscience High opened in the 2006-07 school year with freshmen in temporary quarters on the campus at Phoenix Preparatory Academy.

For three decades, American students' scores in science tests have remained flat or, in some cases, have declined.

The federal government has amended the No Child Left Behind Act so that it now requires states to test students' proficiency in science, in addition to English and math.

Arizona rewrote its science standards in 2004 and tests its students in the subject.