AIMS Op Ed

AIMS can be saved--make it
VOLUNTARY

It is a misguided, 'common sense' view that those
who support education
should support a test which is merely supposed to measure state
standards
and enhance the value of a high school diploma. For those who
have joined
this issue of mandatory state testing just recently, the AIMS
test doesn't
"merely" measure standards--it is a HIGH SCHOOL EXIT
EXAM in 2002! It
punishes students for things far beyond their control and coerces
teachers
into actually lowering their teaching standards by lowering the
quality of
learning experiences in schools.

I wholeheartedly support high EXPECTATIONS for both teachers and
students.
I wholeheartedly believe that teachers should be accountable for
what and
how they teach and that students should be accountable for what
they've
done with their 12 years of schooling. It should, however, be
up to those who
are closest to each child to take the direct role in deciding
how to define
those expectations while describing how state education standards
are being
implemented in the whole educational experience of their child.

I'd like to offer an idea on how to do this. Institute a diploma
system:
CHOOSE to take the AIMS test or CHOOSE to document your learning
by another system approved by the local school and school board.
Make the AIMS test voluntary. This way, those who value the
test because it is valued by
prospective employers or institutions of higher learning can have
an AIMS
test score to offer. Those, on the other hand, who want to explicitly
describe what they know can use a portfolio system or a multi-step
graduation application process as their ticket out of high school.
Both
will enhance the respective value of a high school diploma and
the diploma
will mean something to everyone. I have a sneaking suspicion,
however,
that given the choice, few families will proudly hold up the AIMS
as the option
for their students and few universities, colleges and businesses
will even
ask for an AIMS test score much less value a sole test score to
indicate
competency or future achievement.

Gabie Gedlaman
Gilbert, AZ