Ford: More students pass AIMs test

A change in math curriculum will need more time to take hold before Mohave Union High School District Superintendent Mike Ford celebrates based on results of the spring administration of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test at Kingman High School.

"We had more students pass the test this time than (in 1999)," he said.

"But we're not happy where we are and need to make sure we are better.

"Last summer, we began looking at what we could do in the area of math and realized our students have to have algebra and geometry in order to be introduced to the standards.

In the past, students could take those courses but did not have to so we changed the curriculum to address that," Ford said.

Kingman High School students often took general math during their freshman or sophomore years.

But the curriculum change, geared to helping students be ready for AIMS, means they will take algebra as freshmen and geometry as sophomores, Ford said.

The local district has patterned its math curriculum after Glendale Union, which revised its math standards several years ago and whose students are doing well, he said.

The accompanying graph show results for sophomores taking the test for the first time and juniors who retook the portion of the test they had failed the year before.

Scale scores range from 200 to 800 in each subject area, but are not comparable between content areas so they cannot be averaged.

The minimum scale score for meeting the standard in each content area has been established at 500 for ease of interpretation.

Just 17 percent of 470 KHS sophomores taking the math exam met the standard and none exceeded it.

As shown, 73 percent fell far below the standard in math.

Sophomores fared best in reading, where 69 percent of 488 students met or exceeded the standard.

Writing is another subject needing work.

In that area, 24 percent of 467 test-takers met the standard and 56 percent approached it.

Juniors retook those portions of the AIMS test they had failed the year before, but again the results fell short of Ford's expectations.

Only 14 percent of the 307 juniors met the math standard on their second try, and 74 percent fell far below the standard.

Writing was almost as troublesome; just 20 percent of 241 juniors met or exceeded that standard.

"I'm encouraged that more of the juniors passed, but we're frustrated here, too," Ford said.

"The students are being held accountable for things they were not exposed to when they were coming up through the elementary schools," he said.

"It's not their fault, nor the fault of their teachers who followed state guidelines as they existed then."

Ford said he expects KHS students will be among the best in the state in mandated tests within a few years.

At present, seniors must pass the reading and writing portion of AIMS as a graduation requirement in 2002.

They must be able to pass the math test to graduate in 2004.