Graduation fallout to test
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 3, 2005
When it's all over, when the last AIMS test is handed in next spring, here's
what Arizona officials now say is likely: About 4,500 seniors who have passed
their high school courses will flunk the test and not get a diploma.
An additional 16,000 seniors will drop out, most before taking their last shot
at Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards. Teachers worry some could bail
just to avoid the embarrassment of failing the exam again.
The prospect of several thousand seniors being kept from graduating is
accelerating efforts to rescue them from the brink. Among the efforts:
• Some legislators plan to look for ways next session to give struggling seniors
a helping hand. Last year, lawmakers allowed some students to pump up their
scores based on their course grades.
• A federal judge is considering whether to exempt nearly 4,000 seniors who are
still learning English.
• Parents of students who fail AIMS are expected to sue. The state Department of
Education said it is prepared to win.
• Schools are stepping up efforts to help students who are still stumped by a
test the state has made easier each year.
In the end, if 4,500 fail, they will still represent only a small fraction of
Arizona's 63,500 seniors. And that could spark a different kind of protest among
those who support big changes in education: If all or most students can pass or
get around the exit exam, what does it say about the worth of the test? Can you
call that reform?
Whatever unfolds, it's a historic year for the decade-old test that could bring
plenty of fallout.