State Approves Aims Tutoring Funds

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One-fourth of Payson High School juniors join thousands of other Arizona high school students who have failed Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards or AIMS test.

To help 11th graders pass the AIMS test and graduate, Payson school administrators are applying for tutoring funds.

The money became available this week when the Arizona State Board of Education allocated $10 million for academic support.

In the plan, the state will distribute $270 in tutoring funds for each junior who has not passed AIMS. The money covers nine hours of tutoring at $30 an hour.

That amount is considerably higher than the $17 per hour Payson teachers receive. Around the state, however, tutors are paid an average of $30 per hour.

According to Payson High School Principal Sue Myers, when the district receives the state money she will advertise for tutors and select only the most highly qualified applicants -- PHS faculty, retired teachers or individuals with records of academic achievement and success.

One-on-one tutoring sessions are preferred, but the district will accept groups of five students maximum.

In the next few weeks, administrators will discuss tutoring options with the 11th graders who have not passed the test.

The tutoring, Myers said, can take place before or after school, on weekends or during spring or fall break.

In approving the funds, the state board of education ruled students can be tutored on campus or at a state-approved tutoring facility.

Also, schools receiving the funds will be asked to track the student's progress and identify the academic skills that the student needs to master to meet AIMS requirements.

In Payson Unified School District, teachers and administrators have taken an extra step beyond the state board of education's recommendations.

Payson Elementary School principal Roy Sandoval is leading a movement to retrieve and check the class of 2006's fifth- and eighth-grade AIMS tests and compare them with their high school test results.

"There could be a correlation that would help us understand why some (juniors) struggle," Myers said.

Also, PHS counselor Don Heizer is scouring recent test results in an attempt to uncover causes that might have contributed to students failing the test.

Heizer said a factor he most assuredly will identify as contributing to the failure rate is poor attendance.

"If they are not here, we can't teach them," he said.

While the state tutoring funds are much needed and welcomed, PHS has been providing similar academic support for the past few years.

During the district's Oct. 4 to 15, 2004 fall break, PHS sponsored free practice sessions for AIMS math testing.

Those juniors who participated were taught how to take multiple choice math tests, and how to read word problems while reviewing algebra and geometry topics on the test.

Also, an AIMS math workshop, taught by Northern Arizona University Professor of Education Psychology Gary Moore and Payson center for Success teacher Tom Stultz, was held at Gila Community College.

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