Thousands of Arizona students' test scores tossed out
Arizona Daily Star
Apr. 18, 2006 

By Jeff Commings
 
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/125065
 
Thousands of test scores in Arizona are being dropped to give schools a better chance at earning coveted federal labels, but officials say students are not taking the tests in vain.
The scores of 52,899 students in Arizona about 9.7 percent of those students whose test scores are submitted were considered null and void during the 2003-04 school year, at least at the school level.
In Pima County schools, 8,703 students weren't counted in their school's criteria, or 11 percent of those tested. The increase from the state average could be due to a higher diversity in Pima County than Arizona as a whole, or other factors.
If an Arizona school has 40 or fewer students in a given race, those students' scores are allowed to be excluded when considering criteria under the Adequate Yearly Progress portion of No Child Left Behind.
But authorities say districts are still held accountable for all students, unless a district is so small that it has less than 40 students of a particular race.
"It's not like this is getting shoved under the rug or these kids aren't being counted," said Catalina Foothills Assistant Superintendent Terry Downey. "We still have to include these kids in our district numbers. But for the schools, it's a reasonable number because it's allowing for some error."
A grade level with 40 students still has to test 95 percent of the class, or 38 students, Downey said, and that's a tight number to achieve. She'd like to see the number increase to 50.
Because districts are still held accountable, those who work closest with students say it's important that students of all races are prepared for testing.
"I don't think that it's any less of an emphasis for us," said Smith Elementary Principal Albert Siqueiros. "We still work very diligently towards getting our students aligned for the standards through effective teaching."
Arizona requires all test scores across racial lines to be included for Arizona Learns, which rates students based on the AIMS assessment test, academic progress and attendance.
Some schools with low student counts mostly alternative and charter schools are able to exclude all the students in the grades used to determine federal standards.
● Contact reporter Jeff Commings at 573-4191 or at jcommings@azstarnet.com.