AIMS, or the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards is a state-required exam for elementary, middle, and high school students. The assessment is given to insure that Arizona classrooms are fulfilling the Arizona academic standards. Public school students in grades 3-8 and 10-12 are tested in reading, writing, science, and math.
Test content depends on the grade, and corresponds to what students have learned in the classroom. All grades are tested on reading and math, while grades 5, 6, 7, and 10 must complete an additional writing portion. Only grades 4, 8, and 10 are tested on their science savvy.
The AIMS assessment is designed to measure student proficiency in reading, writing, science, and math as required by state and federal law. Performance scores are reported as “Falls Far Below,” “Approaches,” “Meets” (which is considered passing) or “Exceeds.” The state-mandated AIMS exam is the central component of the Arizona State Accountability Model, as well as the Federal AYP model (the accountability portion of the No Child Left Behind Act).
The Assessment Section of the Arizona Department of Education is responsible for giving the AIMS test as part of a statewide examination of Arizona public schools. Test writers work with educators to develop age-appropriate assessments and administer the annual exam. The AIMS A (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards Alternate) is a similar assessment that also meets federal guidelines to assess students who have cognitive disabilities.
In order to graduate from Arizona public high schools, students must fulfill the AIMS High School Graduation Requirement, and pass the reading, writing, and math sections of the AIMS high school test. If students do not meet graduation requirements by the end of their senior year, their graduation from high school will be delayed and their diplomas withheld. Students will receive opportunities to study and retake the exam, or fulfill the AIMS requirements through other alternative methods.
Doing well on AIMS exam can pay off. High school students who excel at the reading, writing, and mathematics sections may qualify for a scholarship to any of the three public state universities. To be eligible, students must complete 16 core courses (4 years of math and English, 3 years of lab sciences, 2 years of social sciences, 2 years of a foreign language, and 1 year of fine arts) by the end of their senior year, with a grade of B or better in each class. Students must also have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 on an unweighted 4.0 scale, or be in the top five percent of their senior class.
If a student doesn’t exceed state standards on the three sections, they may still be eligible for a scholarship if they excel at 2 portions, and meet standards on the third. They would also have to score at least a 3 on two Advanced Placement (AP) exams or receive a 4 on two International Baccalaureate exams.
The AIMS exam is designed to help Arizona gauge where students are in their education, and set standards as to where they should be. Through assessing students in public schools (including charter and district schools) educators and the state can work together to improve classroom learning, and help students graduate with the skills they need. The AIMS test also helps recognize qualified students through providing merit-based scholarships.