Arizona districts are racing to provide tutoring to students who still must pass graduation tests to be given this month.
Just last month, the state announced it would pay up to $10 million for districts to give the extra help to the 37,000 juniors who still must pass one of three sections of the state test. Testing on the reading and writing tests is scheduled for Feb. 22-23, and the mathematics exam will be given April 12.
“The difficulty with the short timeline was trying to get the information out to parents and the kids,” said Lorrane M. McPherson, the executive director of grants management for the 60,000-student Tucson Unified School District.
But now district officials face obstacles such as hiring tutors and ensuring they pass background checks, as well as scheduling tutoring sessions around other school activities.
“It’s going to be very difficult for districts across the state to handle,” said Ildiko I. Laczko-Kerr, the director of student- information and accountability reporting for the 27,000-student Scottsdale Unified district.
Students in the class of 2006 are the first who must pass the reading, writing, and mathematics sections of the state’s testing program, called Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS. So far, 44 percent of the junior class has passed those tests, which are first given in 10th grade.
Juniors who haven’t passed all three sections will also have two chances to take the tests in the 2005-06 school year.
State officials began approving districts’ applications for the tutoring program early this month. Some districts, including Scottsdale Unified, are still awaiting the final approval, but are starting tutoring sessions in the expectation that they will be reimbursed.
Six private companies also are qualified to tutor students under the program.
About 20,000 students have signed up for the sessions in the month since Tom Horne, the state’s superintendent of education, announced the initiative, said Amy Rezzonico, the press secretary for the state education department. “Districts are responding very well to the tutoring fund,” Ms. Rezzonico said.
A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as Ariz. Students Welcome Tutoring for Graduation Exam