Testing, testing, testing<br>Camp Verde reviews AIMS results
Progress was clear, but areas of weakness were also apparent.
The governing board of the Camp Verde Unified School District eyed graphs and charts for two sets of results from last year's testing. Mathematics proved a problem for all classes taking the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test last spring while reading and writing skills fluctuated.
The Arizona Measure of Academic Progress, however, allowed the board to more legitimately compare the academic progress of elementary and middle school students with previous test results. The 1999-2000 test was measured against the two-year average from 1997 to 1999.
"We like it because on this one we look like we're working very hard," said Superintendent Dr. Marilyn Semones.
AMAP tracks students who remain in Camp Verde schools more than a year. While students in seventh and eighth grade scored well below expected gains in math, most of those grades showed big improvements over results from earlier tests.
The AIMS testing results showed 88 percent of eighth graders scoring below the standard in math. More than 90 percent of 10th and 11th graders did not meet the standard.
High School Lead Teacher Joe Peddie said the math portion of the test is the "most rushed, least researched," and the students are being tested on things they have not yet heard in the classroom. Algebra I, for instance is expected to be taught at the eighth-grade level, but the school's curriculum had not yet changed to reflect that.
Middle School Principal Steve Harbeck said it is necessary to be careful not to overreact to good or bad news coming from these tests. He pointed out that a couple of students in a quintile of 15 can skew all of the results.
Semones did express concern that the highest achievers in several classes made the least amount of gains, according to AMAP statistics. For example, that quintile in the sixth and seventh grade grouping was expected to have a gain of 18 in reading but showed a mean scale score gain of 12.
The national expected gain for that group in math was 14, but the mean scale score gain for the upper quintile was 12.9. Meanwhile, the lowest quintile of that class improved 200 percent on what was expected of them.
The AIMS, much maligned for vague, ambiguous questions, will serve as a graduation test and is a requirement for a diploma beginning with the Class of 2002. Camp Verde High School has offered a Continuous Improvement Period (CIP) to help students prepare to pass AIMS on the first try.
High School Principal Stephen Marshall said the school is stressing the importance of the CIP to students and parents to encourage participation.
Students can retake the test up to four times.
At Camp Verde, 57 percent of the sophomores and juniors taking the test last spring met or exceeded the standard in reading. Twenty-five percent met the standard in writing, and only 9 percent in mathematics.
Results were similar in eighth grade, where 55 percent and 52 percent of the class achieved the standard in reading and writing, respectively, but only 12 percent was up to par in arithmetic.
Third grade and fifth grade students had better math results on their tests, with well over 40 percent meeting the set standard. In fact, 20 percent of the fifth graders exceeded the standard.
However, AIMS showed only 27 percent of fifth graders achieving the writing standard, with 38 percent falling far below expectations. More than half passed the reading portion of the test.
In third grade, 45 percent met the standard in reading, and 18 percent surpassed it. A total of 54 percent passed the writing portion, and 48 percent the math portion.