High school shows improvement as students prepare for AIMS<br>

The area of math, such as Denis Kirkley’s geometry class at Williams High School shown above, is one of two AIMS areas whose scores have improved in the Williams Unified School District over past results. WHS sophomores will be taking the tests once again next week for reading and writing and in April for math.

WHS Principal Bob Kuhn feels the outlook is good, since recent additions to curriculum allowed the school’s previous test results to be above the norm in two out of three areas — math and reading.

The 2004 fall AIMS test results show that while the average statewide score was 476 for math and 482 for reading, WHS exceeded in math with an average score of 486 and in reading with a 488.

“The reason why we’re above is because that’s what we’ve been pushing — math and reading,” Kuhn explained.

The school has added a math class, designed especially for those who need help in algebra and geometry, and has added to its math requirements. Every student must now answer one math question and one critical-thinking question every Wednesday during first and second period reading block times.

The first and second period reading blocks are additions WHS made two years ago with a new reading program, whereby students practice reading for a short time during first and second period Monday through Thursday.

The AIMS test, one of many measuring sticks for labeling schools as performing or underperforming, is geared primarily toward sophomore students. Those that do not pass are eligible to retake the test four times — twice in their junior year and twice in their senior year.

In previous years, the test didn’t directly affect the students themselves, but since new state laws dictate that 2006 seniors are required to pass AIMS before graduating, the test became significant to sophomore students in the 2003-2004 school year.

In contrast to last year’s spring AIMS test results, about 20 percent were passing in the math category, whereas this year, that percentage has doubled. Reading scores improved significantly as well.

“We won’t be happy until every student passes,” Kuhn said, adding that he was proud of the hard work students, parents, and staff have all demonstrated in regards to the tests.

Teachers and staff at WHS regularly prepare students for AIMS with periodic sample questions and tips on how to read and take tests. To help kids as much as possible, though, Kuhn says parents can play a big role by ensuring students get proper sleep, a good meal the night before, and a good breakfast the day of AIMS testing.

AIMS math testing for spring 2005 at WHS will occur on April 12, and ninth-graders are scheduled for a combination AIMS-Stanford 9 test in April as well.

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