Students Score Above Average On Aims Test

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AIMS and Terra Nova spring test results revealed most Payson students scored above county and state averages, however, some serious concerns remain about academic performance.

The most impressive scores were turned in by the Payson Center for Success where 100 percent of the sophomores, juniors and seniors met or exceeded AIMS standards in reading. All sophomores and juniors plus 89 percent of the seniors met or exceeded standards in writing.

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Director of Curriculum of Instruction and Special Programs Bill Lawson

AIMS math scores at PCS --67 percent for sophomores, 63 percent for juniors and 46 percent of the seniors exceeded state averages of 67, 57 and 27 percent respectively.

According to Director of Curriculum of Instruction and Special Programs Bill Lawson, comparing PCS scores to those students at Payson High School is nearly impossible because the alternative high school serves a limited number of students and candidates must interview before being accepted. The PHS student body has more than 900 pupils from diverse and multicultural backgrounds.

"That doesn't mean PCS shouldn't get a pat on the back," Lawson said.

Reading scores at PHS were all above the state average, but most writing and math scores were below.

"That will be an area of concern we will look at," Lawson said.

If there is a misleading score among the high school results it is the 21 percent posted by the senior class.

"The seniors weren't required to take AIMS and many of them didn't," Lawson said. "And the ones that already passed it as sophomores or juniors probably didn't take it (again)."

The state math average for seniors was 27 percent.

After receiving the AIMS scores July 13, Lawson highlighted those he said concerned him.

Among them were the eighth-grade AIMS scores of 58 (reading), 68 (writing) and 52 (math). All were well below state averages of 63, 79 and 60.

The only other Rim Country Middle School students not to meet state standards were the sixth-graders in math. The RCMS class scored 60, two points below the state average.

Among the elementary school students who took the AIMS, the only class not to meet the state average in math was the Julia Randall School fourth grade. Their tally of 64 fell short of the state average of 70.

In writing, three classes in the district did not meet state standards -- the Julia Randall Elementary School and Frontier Elementary School fourth grade and Payson Elementary School third grade.

The Arizona fourth-grade writing average was 62, Julia Randall posted a 51, and Frontier Elementary School a 53.

PES' third-grade writing score of 72 was just one point below the Arizona average.

All grades in the three elementary schools exceeded state standards in reading.

Some of the highest scores were turned in at PES where fifth-graders scored a 95 in reading, 81 in writing and 86 in math.

After assessing all the test results, Lawson said he was pleased with most scores, and said the scores indicated that the students were doing well and progressing.

He anticipated, in the next few weeks, completing a study that will measure whether the students who took advantage of tutoring and other study programs leading up to the test were more successful than those who didn't.

"We want to correlate those, find out how much the special tutoring helped," he said.

After thousands of Arizona high school students failed the AIMS test two years ago, the Arizona State Board of Education allocated $10 million for academic support and tutoring.

In the plan, Payson was among the high schools to apply for and receive $270 in tutoring funds for each junior who had not passed AIMS. The money paid for nine hours of tutoring for each student who applied.

New tests

During last spring's testing, the Stanford 9 was replaced by TerraNova in grades two and nine.

The Stanford 9, which had been used in Arizona almost 10 years, fell by the wayside March 29, 2003 when the state board of education voted unanimously to award a new contract for the state's testing program to a division of McGraw-Hill publishing known as CTB.

The TerraNova is a Norm Referenced Test (NRT), which means previous exams have been given to establish a baseline grade of "50."

The only class not to reach the baseline was the PES second grade in language where students scored a 43.6.

The best TerraNova score, a 68 was earned by the JRE second-graders in reading.

According to Lawson, individual test results for all students who attended Payson schools last spring are available and will be distributed at upcoming school registrations or at open house events.

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