Aims Should Remain Grad Requirement Says Task Force

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The Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) should remain a graduation requirement, but the state should implement new tests to help students become more career and college ready, a task force recently recommended.

The recommendation, released earlier this month, suggested that the state require high school juniors to take a college and career readiness test junior year, in addition to AIMS.

Parents or guardians could opt students out of taking the new test, which would not be required for graduation.

The group also recommended that high school freshmen take a college and career potential test instead of the existing standardized achievement test, TerraNova.

State legislators created an AIMS task force during last year’s budget negotiations to examine the efficacy of the high-stakes test.

A seven-member board, filled mostly with Ph.D.-level school district representatives, concluded that AIMS is “essential,” but “not a measure of college and career readiness.”

It defined “college readiness” as a student’s ability to take college introduction-level English and math classes without remedial coursework.

The AIMS test, the report states, measures a student’s proficiency at the sophomore level.

Payson schools Superintendent Casey O’Brien said he generally agreed with the recommendation, although he worried that the state would pass a new, unfunded testing mandate.

The task force recommended that the state pay for a new test.

“We are aware of the current realities of the state’s fiscal situation,” the report read. “We have created a series of recommendations for a comprehensive assessment system that can guide educational policy for years to come.”

The report recommended making national tests like the National Assessment of Education Progress a benchmark for state tests.

“Arizona needs comparable data that measure our schools against the quality of education in other contexts,” the report read.

It also proposed implementing an Education and Career Action Plan beginning with this fall’s freshmen as part of a “feedback loop” that includes AIMS.

The group theorized that these feedback loops would allow students to better prepare for life after high school.

“Students can begin making course decisions based on their interests and ambitions,” the report stated.

With the budget clogging up the legislature, it remains unclear when state lawmakers will discuss the task force’s recommendations.

O’Brien said he hopes for quick action. “I hate to see when there’s a recommendation for a task force to have input,” he said, and then nothing happens.

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