Academy penalized for AIMS error
Arizona Republic
 Mar. 3, 2007

Kelly Carr

1 student too few took test last year at Buckeye school

One student not taking a section of the AIMS test last spring is all it took.

Now officials at Buckeye Academy are working to make sure the same mistake doesn't happen again.

Because the academy did not test 95 percent of its students in the state's math test last spring, it is under warning status for failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress. The academy, part of the Buckeye Union High School District, is a Title 1 school. The federal government's 2002 No Child Left Behind Acts says a Title 1 school must meet all requirements of AYP, which include testing a certain number of students in math and reading. A Title 1 school gets federal money for having a high rate of students who receive free or reduced lunch.

Kari Klein, Buckeye's assistant superintendent, said one student at the academy was not tested in AIMS math last spring. That means the school is now in "warning status of Title 1 School Improvement" and had to write an improvement plan. The school is implementing that plan now.

Klein said a student who no longer attends the academy was registered as a freshman, so he did not take AIMS math. But the state said the student is a sophomore and should have taken the test.

That student not taking sophomore AIMS math put the school under the 95 percent testing rate.

It then failed AYP because it did not meet standards in the category. The AYP standards look at elements such as attendance, high school graduation rates and whether enough students in all schools have passed the reading and math sections of AIMS, Arizona's state standards test.

A letter sent recently to parents explains the school's status and informs the community that the school is undergoing an improvement plan. The plan includes staff training for better communication with parents. A new system in is place to pick up students and give them a ride to school for testing.
Also, key paperwork will be translated into Spanish for some parents, so they can have a better understanding of AIMS and other school procedures.

If Buckeye Academy does not make AYP in the same category again this year after students are tested in math, the school would be officially labeled under improvement. That label means an impact on the district's budget and stricter observation by state officials.

"If you fail the same criteria two years in a row, the improvement plan is more lengthy and you are much more accountable with the state," Klein said.
"You must designate funds for professional development and for school choice. Parents could have a choice if they want to send their students to the academy or another performing school in the district, then we would have to provide transportation."

This past week, Buckeye Academy's students took the writing and reading sections of the AIMS test. They will take the math portion on April 11. The district will be notified if the school made AYP in August.

Buckeye Union High School District's other schools received state and federal government approval. Buckeye Union is a performing plus school and Estrella Foothills is highly performing.

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-6514.