February 21, 2005
Arizona high school students heartened by news Wednesday that lawmakers might eliminate the state’s high-stakes graduation test as a diploma requirement should not relax just yet.
"Stay the course," state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said. "The legislative process is a lengthy one."
He said Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards will survive the current legislative session as a diploma requirement, and students in the class of 2006 will remain on the hook to pass the exam — which starts Tuesday at high schools across the state.
"I feel confident that a majority of the Legislature will follow the wishes of a majority of the citizens that a student demonstrate on a reasonable test that he or she has the proficiency they expect of high school graduates," Horne said. "The public is tired of social promotion."
Horne said several educators contacted the state Department of Education last week with concerns that students might slack off this week based on the assumption that a bill working its way through the state Senate would ultimately become law and eliminate the high-stakes component of AIMS.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, passed the Senate Education K-12 Committee on Wednesday and now awaits debate from the full Senate.
If the bill clears the Senate, it would next need approval from the House and the governor.
More than half the students in the class of 2006 failed AIMS on their first two attempts in 2004. If they fail the test again this semester, they will receive two more chances during their senior year.
High school sophomores, meanwhile, will be seeing the exit exam for the first time this week.
High school: AIMS writing test is Tuesday, reading is Wednesday and math is April 12.
Grades 2 through 9: Schools must administer AIMS tests within one week during the window of April 11-22. Second- and ninth-graders do not take AIMS but take another standardized test. First-graders are not tested.
What: Zaharis Elementary School principal Mike Oliver and Horne will participate with other educators in a panel discussion on AIMS during the Tribune Education Expo.
When: 11 a.m. April 2
Where: East Valley Institute of Technology, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa