Reading Scores Show Mixed Results
The Arizona Department of Education released AIMS test results recently. AIMS is the state standardized test that measures student achievement. 2014 was the first year in which 3rd grade students who score extremely low on reading proficiency will not be promoted to fourth grade, according to Arizona’s “Move On When Reading” law. The news on the test results is mixed.
The great news is that only about 3 percent of third graders (2,200 children) fell far below meeting the reading standard. This is a slight improvement over last year’s test results. After remedial reading courses and other programs, it is estimated that only about 600 children will actually be held back in third grade. This improvement is likely due to the hard work of teachers, schools, the Arizona Department of Education and State Board of Education, and community partners with more focus on reading proficiency.
The bad news is that a whopping additional 20 percent of 3rd graders also failed the test and failed to read at grade level — scoring in the “approaching reading proficiency” category. The new law does not require them to be retained in third grade. But parents, schools, teachers and policymakers can do a lot more to improve reading success so that these students have the skills for greater achievement in school and career. Parents and quality child care and preschool can help even very young children develop pre-reading skills. Family literacy programs, effective tools for K-3 classrooms, reading coaches for teachers, and after school and summer reading programs can all dramatically improve Arizona’s reading success. Tackling this challenge will be a key job for our new Governor and legislature in 2015 and beyond.