Scottsdale students will have a little more time than most of their East Valley peers to get ready for next week’s round of AIMS testing.
Most East Valley districts start testing Monday — the same day most students return to class after a three-day weekend that coincides with the Easter and Passover holidays. But the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Cave Creek unified school districts decided to begin the exams Tuesday to give an extra cushion between a long weekend and Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards.
“We know there’s an inclination, perhaps, for some students to be missing school for religious holidays,” said Ildiko Laczko-Kerr, a Scottsdale administrator. “So our first day of testing is on April 10. ... We hope students will be back in school by that day well-fed, well-rested and ready to go.”
Lillian Baribault, an assistant superintendent in the Paradise Valley district, said she felt the same way.
“We didn’t want to start testing on a Monday,” she said.
Students in all three districts also had spring break last week, adding to educators’ worry that students might not remember when the tests start — and will extend their vacations a bit longer.
“To some people, that break was a positive thing because it allows students to rejuvenate. ... There were other opinions that students are going off and having fun and not thinking about it at all,” she said.
Jackie Beazley, director of assessment and accountability for the Cave Creek district, said starting tests two days after Easter, instead of Monday, has helped assure more students are in class for the test.
While districts have a two-week window to give AIMS, Beazley added it’s important to start as early as possible to give absent students a chance to make up the exams.
High attendance is important for districts because the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to test 95 percent of students in different subgroups, such as ethnic minorities and low-income students.
For some schools, that means just a handful of absences in a group could mean the entire school will fail to make federal benchmarks.
Schools around the East Valley have sent letters home reminding parents about the test.
In the Paradise Valley district, an automated phone system made calls home to all parents, alerting them to AIMS testing week and asking them to make sure their children are prepared.