Fifth-grader Haydin Meeks is approaching the statewide test she will take this week at Finley Farms Elementary School like it is a college-entrance exam.
The Gilbert student has spent numerous hours after school for the past two months preparing for the test at the AIMS study club.
The 10-year-old said if it wasn’t for the club’s extra help, she would “freak out” on the day of the test.
But, instead, Haydin said she feels prepared for the test, which will show how much she has learned this year and contribute to her school’s overall performance that is judged by the Arizona Department of Education.
Thousands of elementary and middle school students will take their reading, writing and mathematics portions of Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards this month. High school students will take only the math portion of the test.
Several school officials agreed that attendance and completed homework are the two most important tools in passing the AIMS test, and that “cramming” won’t make up for the 27 weeks of what they learned in school since the beginning of the year.
“There is really not much you can do the week of testing,” said Terry Locke, Chandler Unified School District spokesman. “Once you get to the week of AIMS, the most important thing is being rested.”
Officials say constant parental involvement is the key to successful AIMS scores.
“Attendance and handing in your homework, as archaic as that may sound, is actually the best philosophy,” said Carol Shepherd, Apache Junction Unified School District spokeswoman. “Arrive at school. Do the best you can do and that is all you can do. Give it your best.”
TIPS FOR PARENTS
• Review the AIMS student guide and example questions. Ask students where they feel they need more help.
• Plan relaxing, fun activities in the days before testing.
• Make sure students get a good night’s rest and are up in time for a nutritious breakfast the morning of the test. Make sure they are at school on time.
• Mark the testing days on the calendar. Clear the calendar as much as possible of doctor appointments and family commitments so students don’t feel overwhelmed.
• If students are feeling anxious, remind them of a couple challenging situations they overcame.
• Emphasize that finishing the test is success, instead of obsessing about not doing a good job.
Source: Gilbert, Chandler and Apache Junction unified school districts; Chandler-Gilbert Community College