This week, Payson's high school students and teachers got the kind of report card that most children would "accidentally" drop in the mud on the way home from school.
Math -- F
Writing -- F
Reading -- C
Students throughout Arizona scored poorly on AIMS -- the state's first standardized high school test.
And it didn't take long for the finger-pointing to start. Parents blamed teachers and teachers blamed the test.
The test takers -- last year's sophomores -- just shrugged their shoulders and thanked their lucky stars that they didn't have to pass the test to graduate. That chore falls to this year's sophomores and those who come after them.
Educators are quick to point out that AIMS is designed for seniors, not sophomores, and the students who took the test hadn't been introduced to many of the skills on the test. Some teachers think the test is just too darn hard for most students.
Those concerns may be valid, but with all the justifications and explanations and qualifications and accusations aside, one thing is clear: A high school standards test is long overdue.
It seems ludicrous that it is only now, at the dawn of a new century, that we're setting such standards for high school graduates.
If AIMS needs to be retooled -- if it needs to test skills that are more relevant to real-life applications, then we encourage state educators to change it.
But we also encourage students, teachers and parents to embrace the philosophy behind AIMS. It raises the bar for education, and eventually it will strengthen our education system.