Students could have to wait for diplomas

Pat Mickelson

Pat Mickelson

KINGMAN - A small number of Kingman High School and Positive Alternatives for Student Success students hoping to get a diploma with the rest of the Class of 2008 during graduation ceremonies June 5 at Lee Williams Field are going to have to wait a while longer.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved by a 22-5 vote a House-passed bill to reinstate the expired augmentation program for Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards test. Passage of all three sub-tests (reading, writing, math) is required for a high school student to receive a diploma at graduation.

"We're ready to submit the necessary documentation to the state Department of Education for those students on the bubble that qualify for augmentation," KHS Principal Pat Mickelson said Tuesday night.

The Senate added one provision to House Bill 2008 that would scale back how much help it provides.

The bill went back to the House on Wednesday for another vote with the provision.

The House passed it but not by a wide enough margin for it to take effect immediately. Gov. Janet Napolitano stated earlier in the day that she would sign it.

In a story appearing Monday in the Miner, Mickelson said there are about 10 KHS students that have not passed all three AIMS sub-tests and less than 20 (counting PASS students) in all. Those students could get their AIMS scores boosted by up to 25 percent with the application of grades earned in core classes through augmentation.

While the KHS and PASS students become eligible for diplomas once Napolitano signs the bill, they would not receive them until 90 days after the current legislative session ends.

The House passed the bill nearly two months ago. It also made it through the Senate Education Committee before becoming stalled in mid-March.

Mickelson said Tuesday when it got through the House she felt it eventually would also pass in the Senate.

Rep. David Schapira (D-Tempe), who sponsored the bill, told the Associated Press it could impact up to 6,000 students this year.

The phase-down provision added by the Senate would cut the 25 percent augmentation boost to 10 percent next year and 5 percent thereafter.

Sen. John Huppenthal, (D-Chandler) proposed the phase down. He told the AP he opposes watering down the AIMS test, but added the phase down provides a transition to a point where AIMS scores will be useful as an academic accountability tool.

Without augmentation, KHS and PASS students "on the bubble" face two choices, Mickelson previously stated.

They can attend a fifth year of high school or accept a "Certificate of Completion" at graduation. The certificate means the student has completed all requirements for graduation, except passage of the AIMS test.