Putting AIMS to the Test

Posted on June 23, 2005
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Eight in 10 students failed the AIMS test when it was first administered in 1999. Since then, the State Board of Education has changed the test six times to make it easier. Yet in 2004, over 60 percent of students still failed. Furthering the trend, new legislation lets students use qualifying class grades to raise their AIMS scores, meaning students can pass the test even if they answer fewer than half of the questions correctly.

With so much fiddling, does AIMS provide parents with meaningful information on what their children are learning?

To find out, Education Next put AIMS-and tests in 39 other states-to the test. Comparing the percentage of students achieving proficiency on state tests to the percentage achieving proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress helps reveal the comparative rigor of each state test. The AIMS test earned a B-, indicating Arizona standards are less rigorous than national standards and standards in over half a dozen other states.

This grade suggests AIMS misses the mark as a meaningful measure of student performance.

Key Links:
- Education Next: "Johnny Can Read in Some States"
- East Valley Tribune: "Decade of AIMS," (subscription required) 
-Robert Robb: "On AIMS, it was the adults who flunked"
-Senate Bill 1038: "AIMS test; graduation; exceptions," signed by the governor on May 20, 2005

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