AIMS progress is seen in Pima
Arizona Daily Star

By Sarah Garrecht Gassen
About half of Pima County's high school juniors - the first class that must pass AIMS to graduate - have passed the math portion of the test, according to state education officials.
The results from the students' second try at the test, released this week by the Arizona Department of Education, show that Pima County students are making progress toward passing the reading, writing and math portions of the AIMS test.
Students' performance on the math test, however, remains lower than on the reading and writing portions.
The juniors who failed again this time will have another three opportunities to take the test before they are supposed to graduate in spring 2006. Education officials are making plans statewide and locally to help students who still haven't passed all or part of AIMS before their chances run out.
For example, only 36 percent of Pima County students passed the AIMS math test when they took it the first time as sophomores last spring. About 5,500 of those students, now high school juniors, retook the math test last fall and now a total of 46 percent have passed the math exam.
About 70 percent of Pima County juniors have now passed the reading exam and 75 percent have passed the writing test, according to the results.
Pima County scores are a few percentage points lower than the statewide figures in all three test categories.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said he is encouraged by the results.
"In math we've made substantial progress," he said. "I think students are taking it more seriously and teachers are teaching the academic standards."
The Arizona Department of Education does not yet have the number of juniors who have passed all three parts of the test, but Horne said using the number of students who've passed the math portion - about 46 percent in Pima County - is a good approximation for gauging how many now have AIMS under their belts.
The Flowing Wells Unified School District has about 100 juniors who still have to pass the math test and 70 students must retake the reading or writing tests, although those figures could include one student who has to retake two or three tests, said Superintendent Nic Clement.
The district will present a plan to its governing board in January outlining what help Flowing Wells will offer those students, Clement said.
The plan will include "highly recommending" that those students attend Saturday classes or summer school courses, but school districts don't have the power to require students to put in extra time beyond the regular class schedule. Flowing Wells could also offer an AIMS-related class for seniors next year, Clement said.
"We're going to do everything we can, but there's going to be some responsibility on the student and the parent to take advantage of the remediation," he said.
Students will take a different AIMS test this spring, one entirely written by Arizona teachers who have based the questions on the academic standards all students are supposed to be learning in class. Horne said he thinks the new test will be more in line with what students review in school and therefore more students will pass.
More students are passing partly because they've had more coursework and are better prepared to take the tests, said Holly Himebaugh, a sophomore at Palo Verde High School who will take AIMS for the first time this spring.
"I have a few friends who did have to retake it. They've actually been doing better and they did pass and have an easier time taking it this time," she said. "The second time, you're more familiar with the test, but also having the help you need helps."
For example, Palo Verde offers an "AIMS math" course and Himebaugh said some teachers remind students which skills they'll need for AIMS. "It lets me know what I need to work on," she said.
Officials with Tucson Unified and Sunnyside school districts could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
● Contact Sarah Garrecht Gassen at 573-4117 or at
2004 data:

(Retest scores have been added. Look below grade 12 to see your school's retest data)

- Pima County
Statewide results:
- Public schools: English speakers
- Public schools: English learners
- Charter schools: English speakers
- Charter schools: English learners