GC AIMS test results<br>surpass state averages

PHOENIX — Grand Canyon students continued to perform above state averages in most areas, the spring 2000 AIMS test results revealed after being released last week by the state’s Department of Education.

Grand Canyon test scores were above state averages in all three sections of the test in the third, eighth and 10th grades. But, last year’s fifth-graders were below state averages in both writing and math.

The Class of 2002, this year’s junior class, will be required to pass the reading and writing sections of Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards test. Taking the test last year as 10th-graders, Grand Canyon saw 84 percent pass reading and 47 percent pass writing.

Those percentages far surpass the state averages for 10th-graders. Statewide, 68 percent of last year’s sophomores passed reading and 34 percent passed writing.

Math is a different story. Statewide, only 17 percent of sophomores passed the section. At Grand Canyon, 23 percent passed.

“We are seeing some improvement in high school,” said Lisa Graham Keegan, state superintendent of public instruction. “I want to thank our teachers for that.”

It was the first time the test had been given to students in the third, fifth, eighth and 10th grades. Juniors who did not meet the standard as sophomores also took the test.

Of those eight Grand Canyon juniors (this year’s seniors) who retook the reading test, 38 percent passed. In writing, 18 percent of the 11 students passed and in math, 20 percent of the 15 students passed.

Mathematics continued to be a problem test area for students at all levels.

At Grand Canyon, the only grade level to have a majority pass the math test were the third-graders. In that class, 65 percent of the 20 students either met or exceeded the standard. Statewide, 46 percent passed the third-grade math section.

AIMS tests students on their knowledge of the Arizona Academic Standards, documents that state what students should be able to and know at certain grade levels.

Keegan expressed concern over results from middle-school students, citing a decrease in mathematics achievement from the fifth to eighth grade.

In math statewide, 46 percent passed in third grade, 39 percent passed in fifth grade and 16 percent passed in eighth grade.

“We need to explore what is happening in our middle schools,” Keegan said. “We need serious study of our curriculum from the fourth to eighth grades. I suggest that we are asking teachers to cover too much material instead of focusing instruction on core standards.”

Impressively, Grand Canyon bucks the statewide trend. Local students see a rise in those who pass math from the fifth (34 percent) to eighth grade (38 percent). Grand Canyon students also see higher percentages of eight-graders pass the reading and writing sections compared to fifth grade.

Grand Canyon’s fifth-grade scores were lower than statewide averages in two of three sections. In writing, 35 percent passed compared to the statewide average of 47 percent. In math, 34 percent passed compared to the statewide average of 39 percent.

In fifth-grade reading, 69 percent of local students passed compared to 65 percent statewide.

Keegan said further study is needed to examine learning gaps.

“Our next step will be to analyze the degree of the achievement gap between groups of students, which we know still exists,” Keegan said. “It is critical that overall growth not mask a lack of progress for any child.”

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