Schools may get some relief from problems attributed to a year-to-year variance in test scores when the state Department of Education calculates another year of achievement profiles in October.
The State Board of Education voted Monday to use 2001 Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS, test scores as a base line when measuring how much progress students make on the high school math test. The board’s reasoning was that the test curriculum had changed between 2000 and 2001.
The decision follows an April 28 vote to use an average of 2000 and 2001 scores as the base line to compute the percentage of advancement students make in reading, writing, and elementary and junior high math scores.
"In 2000, students thought it was a high-stakes test," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said of AIMS, which was then in line to be a graduation requirement. "Between 2000 and 2001, we put it off. And in 2001, students weren’t trying as hard, and scores were down."
AIMS is scheduled as a graduation requirement beginning for seniors in 2006. The Arizona Learns Accountability law measures whether students achieve a year’s worth of growth annually, using the latest three years of AIMS scores compared with the base line scores. The 2000 AIMS scores were used for all subjects in the first profiles that came out October 2002. Schools are
labeled "underperforming" to "excelling."
Joe O’Reilly, executive director for student achievement support in the Mesa Unified School District, said the move will smooth out highs and lows, but probably won’t have a dramatic overall effect on school profiles.
"It looks like scores do vary year to year," he said. "So the two years will average out a high or low year. While it will affect individual schools, it’s not clear whether some schools will be helped. Some schools would do better with the 2000 base line."