Sun, Aug. 18

Legislature moves to replace AIMS for graduation

Supt. Scott Dunsmore

Supt. Scott Dunsmore

The Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards may be thrown out as a requirement for graduation from high school. The Arizona Legislature has taken steps in that direction.

The high-stakes test known as AIMS was put in place 12 years ago and was designed to be a requirement for graduation. Since its inception, the test has been tweaked, changed and, for the past two years, circumvented with legislation to let some seniors who didn't pass it go ahead and graduate by using their good grades to supplement the test.

Camp Verde Unified Superintendent Jeff Van Handel said there are pros and cons to using AIMS as a graduation requirement. "To eliminate the standards would make that diploma less credible than it had been previously," he said, adding that meeting AIMS requirements is proof that Camp Verde graduates have achieved the same standards as graduates of other high schools.

It is possible that either ACT or SAT college entrance exams could replace AIMS. It is also possible that seniors may not have to pass any high-stakes exam in order to graduate.

"Some states are using ACT and SAT," Mingus Union Superintendent Scott Dunsmore said. "AIMS is a 10th grade proficiency test."

He said legislators hope that switching to ACT or SAT will motivate more kids once they find out they can pass one of those tests. He said that ACT actually motivates more kids to continue their education beyond high school.

"In the 21st Century, we need people capable of doing more than ever before," Dunsmore said. "Public education has done a good job, but our world has gone so much farther."

Dunsmore said the United States does not lead the world in anything anymore.

"This is a flat world," Dunsmore said. He said we have our X-rays being read by people in other countries. The industrial jobs are leaving, and knowledge is the most important thing.

Van Handel said Camp Verde's graduation standards are high and credible on their own and "AIMS helps validate that credibility."

Staff reporter Raquel Hendrickson contributed to this report.