Testing in Arizona: An Overview
A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests
By GreatSchools Staff
Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) is used to track how well students are performing compared to state standards. Students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 take the AIMS in mathematics, reading and writing. Students must pass the grade 10 exam in order to graduate from high school.
The AZ AIMS test is based on the Arizona state standards, which define what students should be learning each year. Arizona uses this test in conjunction with other measures to assign schools a rating under its AZ LEARNS Achievement Profile system.
Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final determination.
The information provided on GreatSchools profiles is for the 2009-2010 school year.
Tests in Arizona
Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS)
The AIMS, a state standards-based test, is designed specifically to measure students' progress toward achieving Arizona's standards in mathematics, reading and writing. Achievement is measured by how well students learned the skills described in the state standards at each grade level.
Arizona's state academic standards describe what students should know and be able to do in nine different subjects as they progress from kindergarten through high school. Complete standards are detailed on the Arizona Department of Education Web site. Printed copies of the standards can be ordered from the Department of Education by calling (602) 542-3088.
The AIMS is given to students every spring in grades 3 through 8 and 10. Students are tested in reading, math and writing. In 2007-2008, a science assessment was added. Students are tested in grades 4, 8 and high school. High school students in grades 9 and 10 enrolled in a life science course take the assessment.
How are the tests scored?
AIMS results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Students receive one of four ratings: falls far below standard, approaches the standard, meets the standard, or exceeds the standard. The goal is for all students to meet or exceed state standards on the test.
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
For each subject, the combined percentage of all students scoring at meets the standard and exceeds the standard is displayed.
Why do the test results matter?
AIMS test results provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards. Students don't need to pass the AIMS to be promoted to the next grade, but passing the grade 10 AIMS test is a graduation requirement. Students who do not pass the test in grade 10 have several opportunities to retake the test. Recent legislation has made it possible for students to use course grades to augment their test scores so they can graduate.
Students who do not pass the AIMS are eligible for free tutoring. The state has a telephone hotline - (866) 688-2467 - to answer questions about the test and how to obtain tutoring. You can also find information at the Arizona Department of Education State Tutoring page. Booklets with AIMS test-taking tips and sample questions are available from schools. Sample tests can be found on the Arizona Department of Education Web site.
It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for her school. If your child scores below the standards, contact the teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home.
If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you can do to help. If your child is in a failing school, ask what your options are for transferring and obtaining supplemental services.