A judge has rejected efforts by two public interest law firms to block the state from using the AIMS test as a graduation requirement.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Buttrick heard evidence showing that school districts with a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged and minority students had a lower rate of students who were able to pass the reading, math and writing sections of the test.
Plaintiffs in the case said that is because the state does not provide enough funds to ensure that all students get the education they need and to which they are constitutionally entitled.
But Buttrick said no one proved an absolute link between the programs that schools do or do not provide and the scores on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards.
Without that, he said, there is no constitutional violation.
No decision has been made on an appeal.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three student groups: the economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, and those classified as "English-language learners."
According to the lawsuit, students in these groups - about one of every six high school seniors in Arizona - pass the test at a lower rate than other students.
Attorney Ellen Katz of the William E. Morris Institute for Justice said that if the state intends to use AIMS as a graduation requirement it should provide more funding for these students for everything from smaller classes to tutoring.
State schools chief Tom Horne said there is a link between socioeconomic status and academic achievement.
"But it's not an excuse for anybody," he said.