Hundreds will get diplomas on heels of AIMS cancellation

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Hundreds of students in the Phoenix Union School District will receive their diplomas, now that  AIMS testing is no longer a graduation requirement, according to a district spokesperson.

The district will be spending the upcoming days re-doing transcripts and diplomas, Craig Pletenik says. He encourages students who did not graduate solely because they did not pass the AIMS test to contact their former schools and initiate the process to receive a diploma.

Pletenik says that each year, there are at least 100 students who do not graduate because of poor AIMS test scores.

On Friday, lawmakers eliminated the AIMS testing requirement. Students spent months preparing to take the tests this week, and many students opted to take the tests anyway.

Some say they did so for scholarship reasons. Others, like 11th grader Gricelda Mendoza, took it for pride. "I wanted to feel good about myself," Mendoza says. "Passing something would make me feel smarter."

Mendoza failed the English portion of the test last year but passed the other two sections. This year, she felt more prepared, and saw it as an opportunity to prepare for the future. "I just wanted to feel ready for college," Mendoza says, adding that she hopes to qualify for a scholarship.

Students who need the AIMS test scores for scholarships can continue to take the tests as scheduled this week. Metro Tech principal Kate McDonald says the lawmakers' last-minute decision was "rude" and left many students and teachers in limbo.

"We’re all a little nervous and we’re all wondering who’s running this show," McDonald says. "And who can we rely on? And where are we going with this?"

The elimination of the AIMS testing leaves no benchmark for comparison of students across the state.

McDonald says she looks forward to calling several students this week and telling them that they no longer have the AIMS test preventing them from graduating. But she also wonders if the damage has already been done.

"For those students who have been denied opportunities because they didn’t pass the AIMS test, what's the message we’re sending to them now? Oh well. Sorry about that. Sorry about the opportunities that you missed because you didn't pass the test."