Feds demand more AIMS test data
 August 26, 2005
PHOENIX - Federal officials are asking Arizona to get tougher on schools when determining which ones are considered failing.
For the first time, they want Arizona to include AIMS test scores from students just learning English when the state calculates which schools meet federal standards and which fail.
The problem was pointed out in a report compiled by monitors who spent a week in April visiting Arizona schools, talking to state officials and combing through records to determine how well the state is complying with federal law.
If the state loses this battle, the number of schools failing to meet federal standards could jump by about 150 in 2006. In addition, the 303 schools already failing federal standards in 2004 would find it harder to work their way to passing. Schools that don't pass four years in a row face government intervention, including replacing principals and teachers.
State officials are hoping to convince federal officials to allow Arizona to continue to leave out the students just learning English. If the state doesn't comply, it could end up facing a hefty fine.
State schools chief Tom Horne scheduled a conference call this week asking federal education officials to stand by an agreement that allowed the state to continue exempting most students who are just learning English.
Horne negotiated the verbal agreement with the Bush administration's top education officials in 2003 as a last-minute compromise when the president was eager to announce that all 50 states had signed onto the reforms outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.