Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Movement afoot at Legislature to change AIMS test again

Movement afoot at Legislature to change AIMS test again... will someone please explain to the legislature that in order to get a valid set of data on something it is necessary to run the same experiment each time. Arizona needs to find a standardized test and stick with it so we can build a body of reliable data to track improvement or the lack there of. Until we have large enough set of data (enough years on the same test), we will never have a reliable measure of progress in student achievement. Additionally, the recent addition of the opportunity for students to take the AIMS, as many times as they need to, to fulfill the graduation requirement, should be sufficient tinkering for the time being.

PHOENIX (AP) -- An alliance of conservatives and education groups wants to dismantle the state's AIMS school achievement test before thousands of students in the Class of 2006 are denied diplomas because they can't pass it. State Sen. Thayer Verschoor, a Gilbert Republican who will lead the charge to dismantle the test when the Legislature reconvenes next week, said the all-or-nothing exam has been a costly, time-consuming experiment that has taken away autonomy from local school boards. "This should not be mandated by big government and a state school board. To me, we are saying that we don't trust our teachers," Verschoor said.
We certainly don't want society as a whole to have a say about how we do things in our little pond of the world (people might get the wrong ideas like poligamy is wrong and adults shouldn't be procreating with minors). The reason we have larger oversight is to prevent the problems that come up when isolated communities practice what most would consider devient behaviors.
Verschoor's plan would keep the test as a diagnostic tool but allow high school students to get a diploma if they couldn't pass all three sections of the test. The test is slated to be a graduation requirement starting with the class of 2006. Most teachers, parents and school board members say that AIMS can be a vital tool to help measure student progress. Arizona's largest teachers' union and the Arizona School Boards Association will support Verschoor's bill.

Why would the teachers' union be against accountability? Are they more concerned with protecting the jobs of teachers who refuse to advance with the curriculum standards? Some have been in the business long enough to know that accountability schemes usually gets torpedoed over time because people lack the political will to implement them and actually fail somebody.

State schools chief Tom Horne and others in the school accountability movement will try to torpedo the measure. "If a student gets all A's and can't pass AIMS, then teachers are promoting mediocrity," Horne said. After nearly a decade of tinkering, the AIMS test is still being reshaped. It costs about $11 million a year to administer the test.

Most kids are going to pass this test. A kid that gets good grades and can't pass needs to be identified to determine why. Whether that be a history of cheating, a learning disability, an anxiety disorder, or mediocre teaching it will be better for the child. At least we all agree on one thing...

...(extraneous paragraphs about the governor deleted and this crappy sentence rewritten) Neither Horne and Verschoor agree wants a dual diploma system being floated by some education leaders. [Neither Horne nor Verschoor wants a dual diploma system being floated by some education leaders]That idea would create a separate diploma for students who pass AIMS and another diploma for students who haven't. "The straw that broke the camel's back for me is when we started talking about dual diplomas," Verschoor said. "It waters down the diploma."
Update: Related story out of Yuma Read another education related story here and another here.

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