AIMS vote causes controversy

Monday's vote by members of the Arizona Board of Education to delay implementation of passage of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test as a graduation requirement was unanimous.

But not all board members are happy about it.

Todd Bankofier, president of the board, and Frank Alvarez, vice president of the board, both expressed concern over further delay, said Mike File, superintendent of schools in Mohave County and the Mohave County representative on the board.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jaime Molera proposed delaying implementation of the test requirement until 2006, meaning present eighth-grade students will be the first class that must pass all three elements of the test to get their high school diplomas.

The class of 2002 had to pass the reading and writing portions of AIMS and the class of 2004 also would have needed to pass the math test before the board voted to change the timeline Monday.

Molera plans to go to the state Legislature and ask it to amend the accountability part of Proposition 301 regarding AIMS.

Molera wants all schools in the state to have their curriculum aligned to the standards by the end of the 2002-2003 fiscal year, File added.

"AIMS will continue to be administered over the next four years and a lot of data will be collected," File said.

"What I like most is the component about practice tests or test guides to study from being available as most high stakes tests have them.

That also correlates with rebidding the contract for development of AIMS and scoring the test so we have results by the start of June instead of October as now is the case."

The AIMS test is to be given once a year henceforth with October the month of its administration this school year, File said.

"Unfortunately, we're giving some people the impression that the standards and AIMS is going away and that's an incorrect perception," said Daryl Heinitz, director of assessment in the Kingman Unified School District.

"I think the time line of 2006 is the right decision because students then will have had the standards all the way through school so (the test) will not be a surprise to them and they'll have time to be fully prepared."

Passage of the math portion of AIMS has been the biggest obstacle for students.

Last year, the Mohave Union High School District (which merged July 1 with the Kingman Elementary School District to become the KUSD) changed its two-year math requirement.

Students now must take algebra and geometry beginning in ninth grade, allowing more time for remediation if they have trouble mastering those subjects, Heinitz said.

Prior to the curriculum change, students could take general math or pre-algebra as freshmen or sophomores and not the required algebra and geometry until later in high school.

Mike Ford, superintendent of the KUSD, was asked if the delay may mean students will be able to pass all three elements of AIMS in two or three tries in the future as they better master the standards.

"I think so," he said.

"We're trying to improve what we offer and tie it all to the standards.

We're going to continue to push the standards and use them as our guide."

File said one thing he is committed to is holding curriculum companies accountable.

"They all say 'We offer curriculum aligned to the standards,' File said.

"But no one has said, 'Show us.'