Stranded and Left Without a Standardized Test

Sophomores are being spared the AIMS, but that may not be as sweet as it seems. The decision to get rid of AIMS testing by the Arizona Department of Education has negative effects that they didn’t seem to consider with their choice.

AIMS+has+been+a+hallmark+of+Arizona%E2%80%99s+education%2C+however%2C+its+days+are+now+over.+The+Arizona+Department+of+Education+has+decided+to+look+into+new+opportunities+for+testing.

Photo courtesy of Kelleigh Hogan

AIMS has been a hallmark of Arizona’s education, however, its days are now over. The Arizona Department of Education has decided to look into new opportunities for testing.

Kelleigh Hogan, Editor of Sports and Student Life

If you’re a sophomore, then you probably have some confusion about your AIMS tests. Along with several other sophomores, I was convinced (and partially dreading) the tests, which many thought were this week. And, for this year’s juniors, it was at this time last year. In the height of my confusion, my questions were turned to the internet and school administrators, who informed me – surprisingly – that there is no standardized test in replacement of AIMS.

The most disappointing fact of this news was that the organization who is responsible for over a million students may disrupt those students’ education. Honestly, I cannot comprehend how the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) would find it acceptable to end testing without an alternative in place or – at least – a backup plan. Although they are receiving bids from five different organizations for testing, decisions are still not released, despite these bids being in August. Not to mention the fact that 5.5 million dollars are still needed from the allowed budget, which brings up the further question of whether or not getting a new test is even possible at this moment. Rather than facing a replacement, Arizona students seem to be stranded and up the creek without a paddle. The lack of a test is at least frustrating and at worst disastrous for high schoolers.

As a current sophomore, I feel my doom coming as quickly as their decision to destroy the AIMS. The fear of them choosing a new test is terrifying after hearing about the seemingly impossible PARCC exam. High school is where these test scores begin to matter, and the implementation of a test high school students are hardly prepared for seems utterly ridiculous. Consider this: most students find AIMS simple as it only measures what we have been taught on, but a new test may not necessarily correspond with our teachings. I understand that Common Core is trying to achieve a standard of learning for all students, but there can’t be an expectation of transitioning to a new program in the middle of the year. Most of these standardized tests are not significant to the individual student until high school, but these reforms will have implications on high students starting with my class.

The AIMS is creating a mess with current sophomores as these tests are or were high stake: they’re the ones that determine whether or not students graduate. First and foremost, the upcoming test may be an unfair measure of students’ ability as it may introduce subjects that students were not tested on previously or present testing information in a new manner that highlights skills students may not have learned. Seriously, these tests appear on our high school transcript, which colleges will look at and provide a skewed image of a student’s academic ability. Not to mention the logistics of this test. Let’s suppose they decide on a test by the end of the semester. The question changes from what to when. I don’t know if the test can be distributed by spring or if sophomores can take it then. If not, the remaining possibilities for testing would be junior and senior year, which leaves little opportunity for retakes. This is becoming a disaster that could – perhaps – hurt the future of this year’s sophomores.

Although several students may rejoice at the thought of no testing, this decision may ultimately hurt us in the end. This AIMS mess needs a quick solution to protect students’ academic work. I believe that reforms in the education system are beneficial, but the cost of these reforms must be considered.