Downing to co-sponsor
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Jan. 4, 2005
A Tucson Democrat has signed on
to co-sponsor legislation that would eliminate
passing the state's AIMS test as a graduation
requirement, which is currently set to begin
with the class of 2006.
Rep. Ted Downing said he will
join State Sen. Thayer Verschoor, a Gilbert
Republican, in trying to kill AIMS as a
high-stakes test when the Arizona Legislature
goes into session next week.
Verschoor's plan would keep the
test as a diagnostic tool but allow high school
students to get a diploma if they couldn't pass
all three sections of the test.
Downing said he is hoping to add
a proposal he's been working on with Tucson
Education Association President Paul Karlowicz,
which would keep the AIMS exam but drop it as a
graduation requirement and instead print a
student's score on his diploma and high school
transcript, and let employers and universities
use a student's score in hiring or admission
decisions if they so desire.
"With the current system, the
government makes the decision on every child,
whether you're a bad apple or a good apple,"
Downing said. "My approach is to let the
marketplace decide - people can look at the
score and make a decision about if it matters.
It is not the state's role to destroy people's
Verschoor said the current system
takes decision-making power out of local hands.
Arizona's largest teachers union
and the Arizona School Boards Association will
support Verschoor's bill.
State schools chief Tom Horne and
others in the school accountability movement
will try to torpedo the measure. "If a student
gets all A's and can't pass AIMS, then teachers
are promoting mediocrity," Horne said.
Horne said he expects 90 percent
of students in the Class of 2006 to pass the
reading, writing and math portions of AIMS by
the time they are supposed to graduate next
spring. Students who don't pass by the end of
their senior year can continue to take the test.
Many teachers, parents and school
board members say that AIMS can be a good way to
measure student progress. Tucson Unified
Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer said it also adds
needed motivation for students and teachers.
After nearly a decade of
tinkering, the AIMS test is still being
reshaped. It costs about $11 million a year to
administer the test.
"That tends to create cynicism
and people's unwillingness to put their nose to
the grindstone and do what needs to be done,"
Pfeuffer said. "I agree with having high and
reasonable standards and for the most part I
think we have some decent standards - the
question becomes how do we measure those
Pfeuffer said he doesn't
necessarily agree with ditching the test
entirely, but that the AIMS test needs revision
and the state must address the thorny questions
of how to apply a graduation requirement to some
groups of exceptional education students or
those who don't know English.
In the past, Pfeuffer has
endorsed a two-tiered diploma, where students
who didn't pass AIMS but took it every time it
was offered, passed all their courses and
remedial work when it was offered and had at
least 90 percent attendance could receive a
● The Associated Press
contributed to this story. ● Contact Sarah
Garrecht Gassen at 573-4117 or at