Earlier today, Gov. Doug Ducey got rid of the requirement to pass the AIMS test in order to graduate high school, and this might have officially ended the beef for now between Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, because she was very happy about that decision.
"I congratulate the Legislature and Governor Ducey for removing this last vestige of high stakes testing," she said in a statement. "I hope this decision relieves much of the stress that parents and their children face when a high stakes test determines whether or not a student can graduate from high school. High academic standards and tests that provide information and accountability are very important, but placing all the responsibility and stress on individual students for the success of our educational system is unfair."
Either way, the state had replaced the AIMS with the AzMERIT (which Douglas isn't a fan of
), but students still had to pass the reading, math and writing portion of the AIMS to get a high school diploma through Dec. 31, 2016. Since Ducey signed the legislation into law, as of immediately that is no longer the case. But they do have to pass a civics test, which was also signed into law by Ducey last month.
"Testing will still be available next week for those students wishing to take AIMS for scholarship eligibility or other personal reasons. Parents or families with questions about testing availability in these situations should contact their student's school," the Arizona Department of Education said in a release.
Now, Douglas is proposing legislation to review all state academic standards. There is a bill in the state Senate, SB 1305, which would establish a committee of teachers, parents and other education stakeholders to annually evaluate targeted standards.
“As we move away from Common Core, it is important to do so in a deliberate fashion so that we stop the pattern of creating new standards only to abolish them every few years,” Douglas said in a statement. “This endless cycle leaves schools in a constant state of upheaval and causes undue stress for students and teachers.”
As part of the proposed review process, members of the committee would hold public meetings across the state. All public comment received at those meetings would be analyzed and used to generate proposed changes. Before submitting final recommendations to the State Board of Education, the committee would seek feedback at an additional series of public hearings.
“This process will ensure that the academic goals created for students are set by Arizonans, for Arizonans,” Douglas said. “I hope to partner with legislators, parents and educators to ensure as smooth a transition as possible so that teachers can get back to teaching and students can get back to learning.”
That bill made it through the Senate Education Committee on Feb. 12, and is now on hold until the entire Senate considers it.