Bill would give alternative to AIMS graduation rule
Arizona Republic
March 10, 2008


Betty Reid

A House bill moving through the Legislature may help more students receive their high-school diplomas in May without passing the AIMS test.

House Bill 2008 proposes to permanently reinstate an alternative graduation requirement that takes into consideration a student's existing grades and the number of times the student took the AIMS test or sought tutoring. The measure, if approved, would be retroactive to December.

Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, said his bill affects between 5,000 to 10,000 students.

Many are good students who earn good grades but are unable to pass Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards test, he said. A number of students are 25 points shy of passing the test, Schapira said. He wants students who have good grades to be able to gain points to graduate.

A bill that carried a similar measure expired in December.

"I used to be a high-school teacher," Schapira said. "Some students and teachers asked me to renew it."

He believes the full House will hear the proposed bill soon. It would still have to go through the Senate.

Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, said he is against the bill.

This bill could put pressure on some teachers to inflate grades, and grade inflation is already a problem, Horne said.

"Students should demonstrate on an objective test that they have the skills that we expect of a high-school graduate," Horne said.

John Wright, president of the Arizona Education Association, the state's teachers union, could not be reached for a comment.

Educators at Phoenix Union High School District said numerous seniors would benefit from the bill. The Phoenix district graduates more than 3,000 seniors per year.

Some seniors who have not passed the AIMS test are not expected to graduate in May, said Phoenix Union spokesman Craig Pletenik.

High-school students have five chances to pass the test.

Students take the AIMS math portion in April and find out two weeks before May graduation ceremonies