by Susan Grubbs
Last evening, March 21, a meeting was held at the high school auditorium for parents whose children will be taking the AIMS test. Unfortunately, fewer than 25 parents went to the meeting. I am concerned about what the AIMS test means for our children and wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to other parents.
The AIMS test is for real, and beginning with the class of 2002, successfully passing the test will be the final word for the present sophomore class to graduate. It won't matter whether or not the students have successfully fulfilled their required courses. It won't matter how good their grades are. The AIMS test will be the determining factor.
Our school system, administrators and teachers alike are working very hard to find the best way to help our children meet the criteria of the AIMS test. They are at a distinct disadvantage, as they do not have an actual test to use as a guide. They really have only the test scores from the trial test, which was given to sophomores last year, to guide them.
Going into great detail here is impossible. I would like to tell you, though, that we learned last evening that many of the elective classes -- music, art, vocational studies -- will be difficult to fit into a student's schedule. The emphasis, instead, must be on math, reading and writing.
The administrators' and teachers' hands are tied. They really have no choice but to try their best to comply.
We, as parents, though, can do something. We must do something. Our state superintendent of public instruction and our state legislature decided that the AIMS test was the way to go. As citizens and voters in Arizona, we can try to get the powers that be to reconsider their decision.
They will probably not be willing to scrap the whole idea, but perhaps we could get them to re-think the almost instant implementation of the test. After just one trial test, they made it the final standard. This was done before the educators could even really have an input into the testing.
It seems that the implementation was done without taking into consideration existing curriculums. Many of the children in middle school and high school are already far behind where they need to be to be successful with the AIMS test.
So, what do we do? We make telephone calls to Lisa Graham Keegan, superintendent, and to our state representatives. We send letters, e-mails and faxes to the same, as well as to the members of the education committees in the House and the Senate.
We can offer suggestions, or we can just simply say that we are unhappy with the present plan and the present test. We can remind them that not all students intend to move on to the college/university level. We can tell them that there are students who will not be able to study subjects that they love -- music, art, drama, computers, vocational study -- because they must spend an extra hour or more of each school day taking extra math needed to pass the AIMS test.
We can remind them that we voted them into office and we can vote them out of office.
Ms. Graham-Keegan said the following in her Plan for Education: "Statewide standards cannot be adopted until broad public input is given. Arizonans must have a say on the type of standards we produce."
It appears that she and the legislature made the decision to implement the AIMS test without such public input. Let's remind Ms. Graham-Keegan of her statement.
You can write Ms. Graham-Keegan at the following address:
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Arizona Department of Education
1535 W. Jefferson St., Bin 2
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Please join me in letting our displeasure be known.