Combine standardized tests, schools top official proposes
The state's superintendent of public instruction said Thursday that the time spent administering standardized tests needs to be cut in half.
Superintendent Tom Horne said he plans to submit a proposal Monday to the Arizona Board of Education to combine the state's two standardized tests, the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards and the Stanford 9 test.
Separate reports would be given on scores for the tests, but students would only answer about half as many questions as they do now, he said.
"All of this testing has been a big burden on the teachers, students and parents," Horne said. "By cutting this in half we expect to increase substantially the students' learning time."
The state's public school students in second through ninth grade now are given the Stanford 9 test each year. It evaluates reading, math and language skills and asks the same questions each year.
In some grades, they are also given the AIMS test to determine whether they are meeting learning goals set by the state. High school students and pupils in third-, fifth-, and eighth-grades take the AIMS test.
The tests take up two weeks of the school year. Horne said he wants to cut that time down to one week.
"After two weeks, the kids are exhausted, and it is hard to get them back to learning after the testing is over," he said.
Horne said condensing the tests won't make it harder to accurately compare Arizona students to others nationwide.
"Our desire is simply to make it more efficient so there is more time for learning," he said.
Penny Kotterman, president of the Arizona Education Association, a teachers' union, said Horne's plan is reflects what is important to teachers.
"This is a very positive move in the right direction," she said.
If the proposal is approved, it would take effect in the 2004-2005 school year.