Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test is an assessment that measures whether or not a student is meeting academic content standards developed by the state of Arizona. Beginning in 2000, three core subject areas were assessed: mathematics, reading, and writing. Starting in school year 2007-08 science was added to the test in grades 4, 8 and 10. There are four performance levels for the AIMS: Falls Far Below the Standards (FFB); Approaches the Standards (A); Meets the Standards (M), and Exceeds the Standards (E). Students must pass writing, reading, and mathematics content areas of AIMS HS to graduate from high school (meet or exceed in each area), but science is not included in the graduation requirement. Beginning with the class of 2006, students were given the option to use high school grades to augment their AIMS scores in order to graduate.
AIMS Achievement for Students with a Home Language Other than English:
There are differences in academic achievement between native English speakers and students who speak a language other than English at home. For many non-English home language students, limited exposure to English at home may mean they face additional challenges meeting Arizona's academic standards, which are assessed only in English. However, it is important to note that, while living in a non-English dominant household means a student is likely to have limited English proficiency, this is not always the case. Non-English home language students span the continuum from ELL (English Language Learner) to fully bilingual. Spanish in the most common non-English home language among Arizona students. In 2009, 24.4% of the students who took the AIMS test reported Spanish as their home language. After Spanish, the incidence of other languages drops sharply. A total of 1% of students spoke Navajo, which is the second most common non-English home language.
The academic gap between non-English home language students and students who speak English at home has persisted over the past five years; however, it is narrowing. Since 2005, the AIMS pass rates for all students have generally increased with the pass rate of Spanish or Navajo home language students rising at a greater rate than English home language students. In 2009, more than half of Spanish home language students passed AIMS in both Reading (54%) and Math (55%), whereas less than half of Navajo home language students passed AIMS in either Reading (43%) or Math (41%). Even though non-English home language students are making gains, they are not on track to achieve parity in the foreseeable future; which is why language acquisition continues to be one of the most critical issues facing Arizona.
Arizona Department of Education.
Between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, the State Board of Education lowered the percentage of correct items needed to be classified as "Meeting State Standards" in reading and math. Therefore, the large percentage increases between these two years should not be attributed to meaningful improvements in student performance.