So the Board of Regents in their infinite wisdom have decided to do away with AIMS scholarships. For those not in the know or not having college-bound kids, AIMS scholarships were awarded to those students who took the AIMS tests in school and scored "Exceeds Standard." The schools themselves are hoping students score "meet the standard" or above. Additionally, AIMS test scores are used to evaluate the schools. You've seen the results here in the Miner - where a school is, based on the test results, meeting annual goals or needs improvement or whatever. If the school doesn't meet the standard over a set amount of time, they face a number of "punishments.," the ultimate of which is basically disbanding the school and starting over, or having some government official come in and take over the school.
The AIMS tests are used to measure the school's performance as to how well they teach our kids compared to other schools. When a student takes the AIMS tests, it has no bearing on their grades. It's a grade for the school. What incentive do students have to do well on the AIMS tests? Well, they used to be able to depend on a college scholarship that would pay their tuition costs at any Arizona state college. With tuition costs starting around $8,000 a year, that is one big incentive. Two years ago, I sat in the audience at Kingman High School's senior awards night. The stage was full of about 35-plus students who had achieved an AIMS scholarship. Those are Kingman's kids getting a leg up in the world by being given the chance to attend college and not having to worry about how to pay the tuition.
The Board of Regents is changing the AIMS scholarship program now to only cover 25 percent of the tuition. That helps, but it may not help enough. The incentive to do well on AIMS tests is gone. Where were the public schools in protesting this change? It's their report card. Tell me why would a student strive to do well on the AIMS tests now? Why would a student retake AIMS tests until they "exceed standard" anymore? Why even bother taking the test to meet the standard? I think our public schools are going to see a decline in the number of students exceeding the standard. And with that, a decline in the schools' performance as measured by the AIMS test.
This was a blow to leveling out the playing field for those intelligent students capable of succeeding in college but who don't have the money to pay for college. Is that new building on the college campus worth losing another potential Einstein?
The Board of Regents committed a tremendous disservice to the future of Arizona and should be ashamed of themselves.