Were the changes this year to the AIMS
test good or bad? Why?

The Virtual Editorials - E11 (July 17, 2005) - Dennis Foster

Introduction:  The State of Arizona has used the AIMS test as a requirement for graduation from high school - you must pass to graduate.  The test has been administered for a few years, and is part of the outgrowth from President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program.  This past year, the test was dumbed down and the passing threshold lowered.  It was administered this spring and the results came out in July.  And, surprise, surprise!  Passing rates are way up!  Who would've thought that could happen?

Virtual Editorial #10

"I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again."

--The Who

     How do you control for quality in a system of compulsory education that is (largely) monopolistic?  You canít.  We may be temporarily fooled into believing otherwise.  Such was the promise of the AIMS test.  Yet, standards have been lowered, and content made easier, until the results become just another illusion used to justify this morally bankrupt system.

     The key to ending this cycle of manic behavior is to open the educational system up to free and unfettered competition.  Using vouchers as the primary means of payment, this would make the family, not the state, the client.  Some markets would be more robust in their offerings than others, but all parents would have more choice.  Schools that do a good job at educating students will find their reputations enhanced and their business booming.  Schools that do a poor job will cease to exist.

     The cycle may be broken in another way.  There are an estimated one million children being homeschooled in the U.S.  With the far-ranging reach of the Internet, with curriculum materials, tutors, homework assignments and testing all available on-line, this will become easier to facilitate.

Afterword:  For some unknown reason, the copy editor at the Daily Sun dropped off my opening quote.  It might be just an honest mistake, or, maybe he/she doesn't like The Who.  This editorial served as a nice follow-up to the topic of week 2 on graduation rates.  For some interesting critiques of the "new and improved" AIMS test, take a look at these articles from the Scottsdale Republic, the Tucson Citizen and the Goldwater Institute.  A commentary by James D. Miller at Tech Central Station was really intriguing, as he outlined how much of the educational system can be outsourced.  His ideas are quite plausible, and may be quite prescient - we will know if the number of homeschoolers rises dramatically in the coming years.

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