Students Prepping For Aims Testing


Are you smarter than an eighth-grader?

The answer to that query might lie in how well you solve a problem from a sample eighth-grade math AIMS test.

Students in all six PUSD schools will be answering similar questions when they take AIMS and Terra Nova tests April 7 to 18.

While students in all PUSD schools openly admit they are apprehensive about taking the state-mandated test, there are those who have formulated a plan for passing the high stakes exams.

"I try not to stress; I think not stressing is important because you think better when you are calm and you know you are going to do well," Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader Tyler Apps said.

Apps, who has scored the highest possible -- "Exceeds the Standard" -- on past AIMS tests also does well by managing his time.

"I take my time and go slow. If there is something I do not think I know, I skip it and come back to it at the end."

Also, when Apps completes the test, he double-checks his responses.

"I go through every answer to make sure I filled in the correct one," he said.

Kelsie Owen, also an RCMS eighth-grader, takes a long-range approach to doing well on AIMS.

"I pay attention in class all year," she said.

The two teens' eighth-grade algebra teacher, Nicole Ward, touts the duo's test-taking strategies as well thought out.

"Those are approaches all students should use," she said.

Late last week, school administrators doled out their own advice for helping students pass AIMS.

It included not missing any class time on test days, getting plenty of sleep the nights before testing and eating a nutritious breakfast the morning of tests.

The Arizona Department of Education has also offered hints for successful test taking that include "becoming familiar with the Arizona Academic Standards documents so that you will understand what you are expected to know and be able to do."

Probably the best way students can familiarize themselves with the skills they need to pass AIMS is by logging on to the ADE Web site ( gov/standards/aims/) where sample tests and students guides are available.

"The sample test questions are very similar to the ones on the actual test," PHS principal Roy Sandoval said.

The principal predicts that those who study and thoroughly understand the sample questions will do well on AIMS.

In addition to the sample tests on the ADE Web site, it features student guides for grade levels three through high school

High school students who have taken but not passed the AIMS tests can obtain a personalized study guide on the ADE Web site. It describes each student's scores in specific detail. It also provides basic instruction and some practice in reading, writing, and math.

What kinds of testing?

When students in grades 2 and 9 take tests next week the exams will be TerraNova or a national norm-referenced assessment that covers language arts and mathematics.

Norm-referenced tests are standardized tests that compare a child's performance to that of his or her peers. They tell where a student stands in relation to other children of the same age or grade.

Students in grades 3 to 8 will take the AIMS Dual Purpose Assessment (DPA), which is a combination of AIMS criterion-reference assessment questions based on Arizona Academic Standards.

Criterion-referenced testing measures what specific skills a student has mastered.

No matter what the tests being taken, school officials say the results are important.

"The information provided by the AIMS and Terra Nova tests allows parents, teachers and administrators to a make appropriate instructional and curriculum decision," PUSD administrators wrote in a press release.

For high school students, the stakes are huge -- they must pass reading, writing and math AIMS tests to graduate.

  • PHS -- April 8 - math, April 9 - science
  • RCMS -- April 8 - writing, April 9 -- reading I, math 1, April 15 - reading II, math II, April 16 -- reading III, math III and April 17 - science
  • Elementary schools -- April 9 - writing, April 10 - reading I, Math 1, and April 15 - reading II, math II

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