Republic readers respond to “AIMS puts science to test” article

February 19, 2006

By Flinn Foundation

In response to the February 16, 2006 Arizona Republic article entitled, “AIMS puts science to test,” several newspaper readers provided their feedback, shared below:

Steve9343, February 16, 2006
Essentially, Arizona is putting all their eggs in one basket by having just biology being the main stay of their testing. As a science teacher who teaches biology, earth science, environmental science and chemistry, I feel that standardizing testing should include a separate exam for each discipline. This is not all that difficult to achieve. If one was to review the New York State Regent’s requirements, one would see that students take a NYS Regent’s exam in Earth Science, Biology or Living Environment, Chemistry and Physics.

In this fashion, students can achieve a Regent’s diploma by passing one or two of the exams. Putting all the emphasis on Biology is very narrow-minded. We have plenty of students who are very interested in earth Science and do very well in this discipline. Having separate exams would allow a student to be given choices and additional opportunities at succeeding.

Also, it would allow the district to teach either biology or earth science in the freshman or sophomore years. This also allows for an instructor to teach to his or her individual strength. I’m sure that there are earth science instructors who are concerned that their performance will be graded on how well students do on state exams. I’m also sure that there are instructors who have an earth science course, that are teaching biological concepts in that course. They are doing this out of a sense of survival. Where is the accountability for this? Also, a student can enhance their credentials by having an opportunity to succeed at different disciplines. If it works in New York, it should work in Arizona.

george9166, February 16, 2006
I was working at Cal State Northridge just when the state of California implemented another hurdle to getting your teaching certificate. It was called the California Basic Education Teacher’s Test or something like that (CBEST). Long story short, we taught to the test and did practice tests and this helped a great deal. In other words, test familiarity yields a higher score the second and third time around. The other thing you can do is simply water down the test so that everyone can pass it. The problem with what I have described is that the accumulation of knowledge and its application is never tested. All that we did was help our teacher candidates get past another hurdle. Having said that, this is common practice in graduate programs.

David C. Rich, Glendale, February 18, 2006
Regarding “AIMS puts science to test” (Republic, Thursday): It’s about time the importance of science was recognized. The differences in the quality of life between 1006 and 2006 are mainly the result of scientific research and discovery, as is the emergence of the United States as a superpower. The debate between science and intelligent design highlights the somewhat antagonistic view of those who see the world through the eyes of faith and those who see the world through science. This taking sides creates an atmosphere in which one must either defend or attack.

Science has been the unfortunate casualty in this dispute. Denigrating science does not elevate God; the existence of God is not in any way disputed by science. God had the ability to create the universe, so he surely would know that life would evolve into its present form. To assume otherwise would be to believe that God was incapable of understanding the result of his actions.

One more point that is worrisome: Has anybody noticed the unfortunate similarity between the red/blue states in the 2000 election and the nation’s science report card map on Page A14 of Thursday’s Arizona Republic?

JoAnne Vasquez, Gilbert (past president of the National Science Teachers Association and president of National Science Education Leadership Association), February 20, 2006
Regarding “AIMS puts science to test” (Republic, Friday): The new AIMS science test requirement is not about having students jump another set of hurdles in order to graduate. It is about their future. If the United States is to compete in the new global economy, we have to better prepare today’s K-12 students to be tomorrow’s workers and voting citizens.

Let’s face it: What gets tested, gets taught! Until now, many Arizona elementary schools have dropped science to concentrate on reading and math. To do science, you have to be able to read, problem-solve, communicate, apply mathematical and critical thinking skills, work in cooperative groups, use technology, etc. Science instruction finally will bring together what we have been teaching in isolation.

Just maybe, all students, administrators and parents will realize that learning is not about “just passing another test” but preparing our young people for the future. That future lies in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.