House votes for option to passing AIMS
April 1, 2005
By Howard Fischer

PHOENIX - State representatives voted Thursday to provide an alternate path to graduation for students who cannot pass the AIMS test.

The preliminary approval came over the objections of some legislators who feared that providing any alternative might encourage some teens not to bother to do well on the standardized tests. But Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said that without some options an unacceptably high percentage of youngsters in the class of 2006 won't get a diploma.
Thursday's action will put new pressure on Senate President Ken Bennett, who a week earlier blocked his chamber from considering anything to eliminate or weaken the requirement to pass the test, known as Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards.
Bennett said after the House vote that he remains opposed to even this alternative. Instead, he wants to put the legislation, Senate Bill 1038, into a conference committee to come up with language he finds more acceptable.
So far, though, the compromises Bennett has offered involve allowing students to skip - or fail - the AIMS test only if they pass some other competency examination, such as an Advanced Placement test for college credit. That, however, is not acceptable to Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, who is working with Biggs on the alternative.
But Bennett sidestepped the question of what he will do if a majority of the 30 senators still prefer the version approved by the House. "I'm not going to speculate on a worst-case scenario," he said.
The version being pushed by Biggs would say that a student need not get a passing score in the math, reading and writing sections of the AIMS test if he or she gets passing grades in those same courses in high school.
But the student still would be required to take the test each of the five times it is offered in the junior and senior years. And any student unable to pass would have to enroll in remedial courses offered by the school to help boost his or her score.
Biggs said about 38,000 of the approximately 105,000 students in the class of 2006 have so far failed at least one of the three sections of the test.