KUSD continues to improve on AIMS test scores

KINGMAN - Fifth-graders at La Senita and Palo Christi elementary schools upstaged their counterparts at Manzanita, the pacesetter on high-stakes testing for much of the past decade, on the math test during the spring 2007 administration of Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards exam.

Among test-takers in fifth grade, 12 percent exceeded the math standard (37 percent met it) at La Senita and 11 percent exceeded (48 percent met the standard) at Palo Christi. Manzanita had 51 percent meeting the standard and 10 percent exceeding it.

"I think that reflects the coaching and stability of teachers, especially at Palo Christi where we have not had a lot of turnover," Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Maurice Flores said.

Math was even stronger among fourth-graders in the district with six of seven elementary schools posting a 10 percent or higher figure in exceeding the standard category. Manzanita led the way with 27 percent in the highest bracket. Mt. Tipton in Dolan Springs and Palo Christi tied at 19 percent, and Cerbat was close behind with 17 percent.

Rounding out the double-digit schools in the exceeding category were Hualapai and La Senita with 13 percent apiece.

"I was impressed with all three disciplines in fourth grade," said Daryl Heinitz, KUSD director of assessments.

"Look at writing scores for Manzanita and Mt. Tipton and you'll find only one or two students at each failed to meet that standard."

Writing was emphasized throughout the district last year and there were significant gains districtwide, Assistant Superintendent Betsy Parker said. Writing took place across the curriculum, including physical education and art classes.

A school-by-school breakdown would take up an inordinate amount of space, so here are districtwide results combining the met and exceeded percentages for each grade level and subject:

Grade 3 had 62 in math, 63 in reading, 74 in writing. Grade 4 had 70 in math, 61 in reading, 79 in writing. Grade 5 had 56 in math, 62 in reading, 58 in writing. Grade 6 had 51 in math, 62 in reading, 67 in writing. Grade 7 had 55 in math, 58 in reading, 73 in writing. Grade 8 had 48 in math, 56 in reading, 59 in writing. Grade 10 had 60 in math, 68 in reading, 59 in writing. Grade 11 had 39 in math, 46 in reading, 44 in writing. Grade 12 had 23 in math, 33 in reading, 33 in writing.

The low scores among seniors were deceptive and did not prevent anyone from graduating, Parker said.

"Juniors and seniors taking any or all of the tests are the ones that did not pass it as sophomores," Heinitz said. "It was a pretty small number when you consider 450 already had passed the test.

"A good percentage of those juniors and seniors were special education students that were able to pass through augmentation in the past year."

Sophomore scores more accurately reflect how high school students are faring on AIMS, he added.

A new math program called Algebraic Thinking is being negotiated for by the district and will help bring up those scores next year among middle school students, Heinitz said.

"In the long term, writing and reading is the underpinning of a good education," Flores said. "The bar is raised 10 percent each year, and part of the concern in meeting (Annual Yearly Progress) is not just to meet the level we're at now, but meeting the full goal of No Child Left Behind by 2014.

"I'm not totally happy with scores across the district. But we're going to continue showing significant gains."