The Arizona Department of Education is looking to develop a new assessment in order to replace the current AIMS test.
John Huppenthal, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Arizona, made the announcement Monday during his State of Education speech in front of members of the House Education Committee.
Huppenthal said the State Board will be adopting a "new assessment" over the next several months to replace the current state-wide test. He also asked lawmakers to grant authorization to proceed with the adoption of a new test.
As to what specifically needs to change, Huppenthal said,“It is especially critical the new test accurately measure the abilities of students at the high end, students who have the potential to lead the world, and that it be more accurate at the low end, where students are at risk of ending up in jail, prison and on welfare.”
He went on to say the test needs to reflect the A-F letter grades adopted by schools across the state, while simultaneously measuring a student's college readiness.
Huppenthal also announced the creation of www.azreportcards.com , a live website that allows parents to view information about schools and districts across the state. Families will be able to access a school's test scores, population size, and a letter grade, provided by the Department of Education.
Also addressed during the Monday speech was the insufficient technology at our state’s schools. Huppenthal said 35 percent of Arizona school districts lack the internet capacity of a small urban home. The state is reportedly working on a plan to increase internet access to school districts, especially those in remote areas, while also lowering the cost of providing that service.
Huppenthal unveiled plans to better prepare students for careers in technology and trade. He said officials are working to help students gain national certifications in auto mechanics, aeronautics, nursing, welding and technology, shying away from just state-recognized credentials.
Other education initiatives included developing lesson plans that don't just teach a foreign language, but teach core lessons -- mathematics, reading, history -- in the secondary language. Huppenthal cited Gavilan Peak Elementary School as an example, where kindergartners are taught how to do math in Mandarin Chinese.
He also wants to increase the focus on understanding civic engagement, such as the Constitution and Declaration in Independence.
The Superintendent also discussed a new initiative to promote student literacy. "Read On Arizona" will "(light) a firestorm of reading excitement across Arizona," said Huppenthal.