State sues feds over counting of English learners' scores
Arizona Republic
June 24, 2008

Pat Kossan

Arizona sued the U.S. Department of Education Friday to stop it from labeling schools as failing because students still learning English are doing poorly on the AIMS test.

State law requires the reading, writing and math exam be administered in English only. The tests are taken by students in third through eighth grades and in high school.

AIMS scores are used to determine whether schools are meeting federal standards for yearly progress.

If schools fail to meet the standard three or more years in a row, the state must intervene. About 78 Arizona schools face state intervention solely because their English-language learners are doing poorly on the exam.

It's the second suit filed in U.S. District Court as part of a three-year feud between state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and the federal agency. Horne had a verbal agreement with U.S. Department of Educa- tion in 2003 to allow Arizona schools to exclude the scores of language learners until they completed three years of English instruction. In 2005, federal officials decided to require Arizona to count language-learner AIMS scores after only one year of instruction.