Legislature For Firing AIMS in Game of Hide and Seek

-Gayle Plato-Besley

No Child was Left Behind, but bipartisan debate was thrown under the bus. On June 26,  Republican representative, Rich Crandall of Mesa, shoved in AIMS legislation, HB2011, during the education budget voting.  Maybe the children aren’t left behind but they are shoved to the side as the state representatives play hide and go seek.  

Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano has clearly stated she’d like AIMS to go away, and seemed fine with signing the budget bill quickly.  It’s questionable at best to put forth changes to state educational standards while the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, was pointedly left out of the discussion.  

Arizona‘s Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) is a test designed specifically to assess how well students are mastering specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Arizona.  Personally, as an educator and former testing coordinator for elementary and middle schools, I find AIMS tedious.  

Standardized subjectivity defines the writing sample and grading of it.  The original design was a heap of political posturing, and to please everybody, it became a DPA (Dual Purpose Assessment). Simply put, it means the following:

A) Standardized portion-bubble sheet multiple choice with results given in   normed, percentile results.

B) Criterion-referenced portion- teacher designed writing samples graded by teachers with a rubric (checklist of standards met).  

This test soup creates individual assessment results for the parents, and school or state-wide comparison results.  So your child’s school might be excelling according to the formula.  It sounds good, but it’s hard to prove validity with the DPA combo meal of tests.

Validity and reliability are critical with any test implying standardized data.  But then, transparency and inclusive discussion are vital components of representative government.   I don’t know if AIMS is the right thing, and I am tired of the task forcing of all related spending issues.  Get to the point and open the debate.  I am thoroughly tired of legislators and our governor being hypocritical, political tools.  Do not push your pseudo-altruism, your desire to help the people, when you pointedly leave out state elected officials and critical experts.

The test is a problem, but the cost of throwing it out is also in play.  Bureaucrats create problems to keep them in office. If one spins and kicks up dust, there is a need to hire a team to clean up the aftermath.  Let’s not spin in the first place as this dust storm is one heck of a haboob.


  1. Big Sister says

    Thank you Lisa Graham Keegan for bringing AIMS to us. Take the money and run! How did that DC think tank work out for you?

  2. While the skepticism toward task forces is understandable, there is no way that a legislature, with as little staff as it has, can possibly make an intelligent recommendation about standardized tests. And under current circumstances, they don’t have any kind of dialogue with Supt. Horne on the topic, so that leaves a Task Force as the only way to process information.

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