May 13, 2005
Arizona’s Board of Education voted 9-1 Thursday to adopt passing scores for the latest version of AIMS that will enable thousands more high school students to pass in 2005 than any previous year.
But the board said the new test administered this spring is just as tough as the old one, and the higher passing rate has more to do with improved teaching methods and tutoring than anything else.
Critics might disagree.
Last year, high school students had to answer 71 percent of questions correctly for a passing score in math. This year, the state will only require students to answer 60 percent correctly. On the reading portion of the test, the state lowered the passing score from 72 percent to 59 percent.
State board members, who anticipated criticism from those who support rigorous standards, said the 2005 version of Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards is new and should not be compared to the old test.
They said the passing scores adopted Thursday were based on a scientific process with the support of a diverse group of teachers, parents and school board members.
"We ought to have the courage to do what’s right, even if what’s right is unpopular," state board member John Pedicone said.
The result of the new performance standard for students in the class of 2006 — the first who must pass AIMS to graduate — means about 61 percent have passed all three portions of the test after their third attempt this spring. The remaining 16,500 students will have two final attempts during their senior year to pass AIMS.
About 74 percent of students in the class of 2006 have now passed the math portion of AIMS, about 87 percent have passed reading and about 89 percent have passed writing.