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AIMS scores provide perspective on school districts’ differences
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Thursday, 21 July 2011 00:00

The Arizona Department of Education released Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards results giving Verde Valley and Sedona educators, students and parents insight into where school districts stands.

According to the results, students in the Verde Valley and Sedona are on top of reading. Every school district recorded more than 50 percent of students tested passed the test with Sedona Charter School and Clarkdale-Jerome School District coming out with top numbers at 91 percent and 87 percent, respectively.

In math, science and writing, some districts didn’t do so well.

In math, the majority of the school districts hovered around the 50 percent pass rate. According to the results, 52 percent of Camp Verde Unified School District students tested passed the math portion, 58 percent of Sedona-Oak Creek School District students passed, 57 percent at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District passed and 53 percent passed at Mingus Union High School District.

Again, Sedona Charter and Clarkdale-Jerome came out on top with 66 percent and 76 percent, respectively, passing.

In science, three schools stood out with 79 percent of students tested at Clarkdale-Jerome passing, 76 percent at Sedona Charter and 70 percent at SOCSD.

COCSD tallied 61 percent of students passing the science portion, CVUSD came in with 53 percent and MUHSD recorded only 45 percent.

Every district, except MUHSD, did its worst on the writing portion of the exam.

MUHSD’s passing rate for writing was 62 percent, higher than its math and science percentages.

Of the students tested at SOCSD, 68 percent passed the AIMS writing portion, followed by Sedona Charter and Clarkdale-Jerome at 61 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

At COCSD, 53 percent of students tested passed the writing portion while only 45 percent of CVUSD students passed.

While Sedona Charter and Clarkdale-Jerome stand out in most testing categories, it’s important to read between the lines.

Those two entities consist of only one school, as does MUHSD, while SOCSD, COCSD and CVUSD are composed of at least three different schools whose scores are averaged together.

A student I recently spoke with from Clarkdale-Jerome, arguably the top school in the area based on AIMS scores, said she may be attending a different school next year. When I asked her why, citing the recent AIMS scores, she said AIMS is all she learns. She believes the focus of her education only revolves around the test material.

Other districts can also be sabotaged by a single class of students. One administrator said his district saw its scores drop when one class with struggling scores came to the district.

Standardized tests create controversy in and of themselves based on questions of how much they truly measure what a student learns, and Arizona’s push to base education around a single test draws fire from critics.

I do believe math, writing, reading and science skills are vital to a student’s future. However, learning only a list of 50 words or repeating only one certain type of equation over and over again because it will be on AIMS this year doesn’t make sense. Students should be taught the broad basics of each subject to give them a foundation of the material to build on in the future. Whether education based on AIMS does this is yet to be seen.

 

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor

 

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