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Sun, Sept. 19

AIMS test scores<br>prompt some concern

A first glance at Grand Canyon’s AIMS test results released last week reveal a couple of concern areas for district officials. High-school students continue to perform at or above state levels in all categories, but there are some low scores among the younger students.

“I haven’t had a chance to look at them closely ... my first reaction is disappointment, especially in the eighth grade,” Becky Crumbo, testing coordinator for the Grand Canyon School District, said Thursday.

Crumbo did not want to elaborate on specifics since she needed to chart and break down the results. She will prepare a report to eventually be presented to the local school board.

Crumbo’s reference to the eighth grade was mainly due to math scores. The Class of 2007, or last year’s eighth-graders, saw only 10 percent of its students pass the math portion of the test. The statewide percentage was more than double that figure at 21 percent. Eighth-graders hovered around the state averages in reading and writing.

Other concern areas included low scores in the third and fifth grades. In particular, last year’s third-graders struggled with reading while fifth-graders were well below state averages in math.

Crumbo said the school will be going to teachers with guidance on how to learn from the results.

“We will go to teachers in the next couple of weeks and have them chart their own results for students and pinpoint areas of strengths and weaknesses and make goals based on this data,” Crumbo said. “This will be goal-driven; we’ll analyze the heck out of it.”

In third-grade reading, 55 percent of students passed the reading test, but that was 22 percentage points below the state average. Third-graders also struggled with writing as 60 percent passed, compared to 79 percent statewide.

Fifth-graders were 20 percentage points below state averages in math. There were some problems with reading while writing was nearly even with state averages.

Students with problems in targeted areas will be receiving extra help.

“We’ll do it on groups of kids, but also individuals too, so we can see what kind of interventions are needed with particular students,” Crumbo said about analyzing the results.

This year’s 10th-graders will be the first class required to pass AIMS in order to graduate.

“This year’s test they give in the spring is the real one,” Crumbo said. “I think the high school is pretty close (to where scores should be). Traditionally, the high school has done well compared to the state.”

Last year’s sophomores were ahead of state percentages in all three categories. Juniors and seniors who previously failed or wanted to improve scores also took the test.

Statewide, AIMS data revealed increases in math at all grade levels, with mixed results for reading and writing.

“Many of the students who took the AIMS test last year knew that there would be no consequence because passing the test wasn’t essential to graduating high school,” Tom Horne, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a press release. “That’s changed. Beginning with the current class of high school sophomores, passing the AIMS test will be mandatory before getting a diploma. That will be a tremendous incentive in the coming years.”

Test results are being broken down into ethnic groups, therefore, Crumbo and other testing coordinators can compare results between English speakers and non-English speakers. Preliminarily, the results appear to be about the same for both groups.

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