Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 18, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

AIMS changes


  • Passing the AIMS Test just might have gotten a little easier because of a vote by the State Board of Education, as well as a bill passed by state lawmakers.
Guests:
  • Tom Horne - Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Joanne Hilde - State Board of education


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," passing the aims test just might have gotten a little easier because of a vote by the State Board of Education, as well as a bill passed by state lawmakers. Plus, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Find out how you can be safer on the road whether you are on a motorcycle or driving next to one. That's next on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." It was election night in parts of the state last night. In Mesa, residents approved $84 million in taxpayer incentives for the Riverview Project, which will feature a Wal-Mart Super Center and a Bass Pro Shops store. Cave Creek voters approved a $50 million bond for town improvements. Scottsdale okayed $3 million for all-day kindergarten starting in the fall. And Flagstaff voters said no on prop 100, by just 365 votes. The proposition would have put limits on big box stores. After a couple days of debate and consideration of advice from testing experts and a teacher committee, the Arizona State Board of Education voted to reduce the passing scores for the reading and math sections of the aims test. For math, the score was reduced to 60\% correct from 71\%. The passing score for reading was reduced to 59\% correct from 72\%. While most board members expressed concerns about lowering of the scores, they still voted 9-1 to do it. Member Michael Crow, ASU president, did not attend the vote. Only Arizona State schools chief Tom Horne voted against lowering the passing scores. Joining me now is Arizona superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne. And member of the state Board of education, Joanne Hilde. Welcome to you both. Let's start this over again. No, let's not do that. Jo Ann, I am struggling and I suspect most of the State's population is struggling with how what almost all of us universally think of as a failing or a near failing grade suddenly could become passing. Can you try to explain this to me and the rest of the viewing audience?

>> Joanne Hilde:
I think what's important to realize is that's not what that number represents, and I know that traditionally a 59 or a 60 has always represented failing, but that's not what the number represents now. What that represents is rather the performance objectives that students have to pass in order to complete that particular test. For example, in mathematics, there are certain performance objectives that a 5th grader has to know, and that committee of 144 educators, community members, parents and school board members, they made the decision of what performance objectives a student must know at that particular grade level. Reaffirmed it on four different occasions. So their goal was not to talk about numbers, but rather what does a student have to know and be able to do by the end of the year. And I understand the numbers are confusing.

>> Michael Grant:
Joanne why doesn't it say to this to me, though. If you have to drop the passing score that low, why doesn't it say to me that the test is misdesigned, that we designed it wrong, it's not accurately measuring how we're doing in teaching students what we think they ought to know to graduate from, well, 3rd grade all the way up to high school, I guess? Why doesn't it say that to me?

>> Joanne Hilde:
Well, the number itself doesn't say that, only because that's the traditional. And the test itself, this was a new test this year. That's why cut scores and that development was necessary to set the new standards based on a new test. This test is appropriate. We are -- we're confident that it's a good test. All of the items in this test were developed by Arizona teachers who have themselves been involved with the standards for many, many years. And Superintendent Horne has used this test as an example of what's putting Arizona on the leading edge in testing.

>> Michael Grant:
Tom, I think the whole concept of aims was a three-step process. Number one; let's figure out what students should know at certain levels. Number two; let's design a test that measures what they should know. And number three, let's administer that test, both the test of the students and whether or not they are getting it, as well as whether or not the schools are imparting it. Now, if you have to drop passing to 60 or 59\%, why aren't you basically saying that, you know, we may have messed up all three of those things?

>> Tom Horne:
Well, Michael, let me first of all point out -- I voted against dropping the passing score from 71 to 60 or 72 to 59\%. I thought we should have kept the passing scores that we had, precisely because of the perceptions that you are talking about.

>> Michael Grant:
We were talking about 1500 students here with this drop accommodated, am I correct out of a universe of --

>> Tom Horne:
63,000. It's a comparatively small number of students affected. In other words if we had kept last year's passing score of 71\% and 72\%, about 1500 students would have failed that otherwise are passing out of 63,000. A fairly small number. They would have still had two more chances to pass the test and I think the additional study would have done them good. I thought it would be a good idea to keep the low passing scores. Those kids would have to study more and pass a subsequent test. I can understand the -- the other members of the board felt that the process we set up was a very good process. We had 144 teachers, principals, superintendents, who spent three long days working very hard, looking not at the numbers of questions, but what they did was they ranked the questions from the easiest to the hardest and looked at them and said which one constitutes proficiency.

>> Michael Grant:
What they are saying, if I understand this correctly, is listen when you hit 60 on math at whatever grade level, you are doing what we think you should do and that just seems intuitively out of whack to me.

>> Tom Horne:
40\% of the questions on the test were above what they considered to be proficiency. You have to have a spectrum of questions so you can divide out the better students, too. Because we also have meets the standards and exceeds the standards, and the Board of Regents at my request passed a resolution saying they would give a full tuition scholarship to students who exceeded the standards in all three tests. So the exceeds is important as well. So you couldn't simply have questions on the tests that were at the level of proficiency. You had to have some at below the level and a number that were above the level of proficiency on the test.

>> Michael Grant:
Joanne can you give me an example of what we're talking about here?

>> Joanne Hilde:
Well, I think that 40\% of questions represents those questions above, but in that 60\%, you have all of those questions, all the way -- there will be students who will answer the question that puts them into a meets category and then you'll have that full spectrum of meets that just meets all the way through to the excelling. So, it's not like it's a narrow band, it's a very large band. And it's not really -- I know that it sounds like percentages and that we lowered percentages. That was not our intent at all. We regret that that message is the message that goes out because we really felt that we had focused on the standards, the performance objectives, and what we believe kids need to know. And I -- that's what the whole process was doing. We also had a national group of experts on testing who said the process and its end results were all appropriate and fair.

>> Tom Horne:
I want to point out that the -- that had we kept the old percentages, we still would have gone from 50\% passing math to 70\% passing math, and the focus would have been hey, the teacher is doing a better job teaching and the kids are studying harder because 70\% is how many graduate if there were no high stakes tests. One of the things that I regret about lowering that percentage, even though it had a minor impact on the number of kids it affected is it's causing people to focus on the lowering of the percentage rather than causing people to focus on the fact that our tutoring programs are working, our schools are doing better, and the kids are answering the questions a lot better, even at the old percentages we would have gone from 50 to 70\% of the kids passing the math test.

>> Michael Grant:
You mentioned 50\% to 70\% with these adjustments lowering to 60 and 59.

>> Tom Horne:
No, that would have been on the old percentages.

>> Michael Grant:
I understand. What are the new percentages? In other words, it's 73\% pass as a result of having dropped the percentages?

>> Tom Horne:
That's right, just 1500 more kids.

>> Michael Grant:
Let me try this, because I'm still trying to understand it. Let's say that our math objective in high school is you need to know algebra, okay?

>> Joanne Hilde:
Okay, and geometry but algebra is a good start.

>> Michael Grant:
Are you effectively saying that 40\% of the questions on the test teach to calculus and trig? In other words, a level of math higher than the ones that we want to expect of graduating students?

>> Joanne Hilde:
No, that's not how the range of questions works because the performance objectives themselves have a range within them of difficulty. Algebra itself builds --

>> Tom Horne:
There is harder algebra and easier algebra. How hard algebra do you have to be able to do.

>> Michael Grant:
I think that's still illustrative of the point that I'm making even if I chose CALC and trig. The point is you are not only trying to measure algebra, you are trying to measure algebra proficiency at a certain level.

>> Joanne Hilde:
That's correct.

>> Michael Grant:
In this case it turned out to be 60\%.

>> Tom Horne:
Exactly. And that determination made by 144 educators who are closeted for three days like a jury that's closeted, and they work very hard to determine what they believe constitutes proficiency.

>> Michael Grant:
Here's the suspicion by most and dispel it if you can. This was a dumbing down of the aims test?

>> Joanne Hilde:
And it wasn't a dumbing down. I never heard in those three days anybody talk about backing away from standards that have rigor and instruction that has rigor, but rather, the numbers just worked differently on a new test. Those old numbers worked on the old test, with a new test, we had to have new numbers. And this is what the new numbers look like. They are -- from the participants' view and the majority of the state board concurred, nine members of it, that it was appropriate to use the new scale scores, the new percentages.

>> Michael Grant:
I made the comment on the Friday edition, Tom, last week, that this development combined with the legislature giving credits for As, Bs and Cs, why don't we throw the aims test away?

>> Tom Horne:
I was opposed to what the legislature did. I spoke to the legislators and asked them not to do it. I will issue a superintendent certificate to those students who pass all three aims tests, so that employers who want to know what graduates have demonstrated on an objective test, that they are proficient in reading, writing and math. They can say do you have a superintendent's certificate. That will be a -- very much like a differentiated diploma, so there will be--

>> Michael Grant:
So you'll know this person passed the aims test, not the extra credit for an A, B or C in their English class?

>> Tom Horne:
Exactly, those allowed to graduate by getting extra credits credit for their grades will not get a superintendent certificate. Do you want to know is a graduate proficient which was what this test was supposed to establish, ask to see the superintendent's certificate and that will tell you whether or not the student was proficient in reading, writing and math as demonstrated on an objective reasonable test.

>> Michael Grant:
But Joanne, given the combination of these two developments, have we come eyeball to eyeball with possibly flunking a lot of people and we blinked?

>> Joanne Hilde:
No, I don't think so. I think the universal message I get when I'm with school people in their school buildings, in other events, talking to parents, people want the aims to stay. Teachers know that they are teaching with greater efficiency. They are learning new methods. Aims is really an instrument in progress.

>> Michael Grant:
It just seems like we are not willing to take the consequences of a decision. You can argue with this decision. I have varying thoughts about it from time to time, but it seems to me that having made the decision, leaving the impression that we're sticking with the decision, in essence what a lot of these developments means is that we're really not doing what our lips are saying. We are not sticking with the decision.

>> Joanne Hilde:
I think the move by the legislature was partly based on the pressures they hear in terms of a wide variety of concerns that parents legitimately have. One of our concerns that the board has discussed has been the changing, evolving nature of aims. So the sense that this -- the graduating class of 2006 has seen a multitude of aims go past them and that -- and what we hope now is that this new test is truly the foundation that we can go forward. What the legislature did is just a bridge for two years, 2006, 2007.

>> Tom Horne:
It wasn't a matter of blinking. Had the legislature listened to me and not made that change and had the board listened to me they would have gone from 50-07\% of kids passing math with two more tries to go, which would have constituted 97\% of those who graduated if there were no high stakes test that would have passed the math test. The schools are doing much better at teaching the standards, the tutoring is working and in that sense the aims is accomplishing a lot.

>> Michael Grant:
We're out of time. Tom, thank you very much. Joanne, our thanks to you as well. I'll continue to struggle with this concept.

>> Michael Grant:
They are called "rubs," rich urban bikers. Baby boomers finding a new life with some new wheels, two of them. This flock of urban riders as well as older returning bikers are driving up motorcycle license registrations across the country, with a sharp rise here in Arizona, a 37\% increase in the past five years. But also on the increase, motorcycle accident deaths among riders over 40. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle crash fatalities jumped more than 200\% nationwide over the past decade. Producer Merry Lucero and Videographer Richard Torruellas show us some riders learning how to avoid becoming a statistic.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
When you approach those cones, what do we do to stop? Clutch, brakes, left foot down. Right? Okay, does anybody have any questions?

>> Merry Lucero:
Motorcyclists in the basic rider course at Team Arizona in Gilbert, start off learning fundamental riding skills.

>> Mark Weiss:
That's a class for someone who either has never ever ridden before or may have ridden at some point in their life but maybe it's been 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years ago and they are getting back into riding and they recognize that there is a lot to know.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
Nice and smoothly to increase your speed.

>> Merry Lucero:
Students are learning to be more aware of traffic and every day riding situations, preparing to deal with the risks involved with riding a motorcycle.

>> Mark Weiss:
On a motorcycle, it's of special importance because we don't have all of the built-in protection systems we get in a car. We don't have a metal cage, airbags, seat belts and bumpers. It's us, it's the rider. So paying attention and thinking ahead is crucial to being a safe motorcycle operator.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
Reach out, squeeze. See you pinch it here and that way it doesn't roll. See how that locks the throttle off so you can squeeze? That way it won't go like this at the same time.

>> Merry Lucero:
And the typical motorcycle operator in this class?

>> Mark Weiss:
Well, we actually see most of our riders are between 35 and 50 years old. Most of them are beginners, about a third of them are female. About a third of them have some riding background. The rest of them don't.

>> Merry Lucero:
They have had students in their late 70s or early 80s.

>> Mark Weiss:
In the past five or six years we've seen a big increase in the 40-55-year-old riders. It has been a noticeable increase in that group.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
You shoot one to the other. All right, everybody start 'em up, single file. You are going to ride single file up the clutch control lane and Mike is going to split you up into breaking chutes. Spread out, ride slow in first gear.

>> Merry Lucero:
Weiss says sometimes older riders are surprised at how physically demanding motorcycle riding can be.

>> Mark Weiss:
One thing I noticed is a lot of middle aged riders coming into the beginning rider course typically know someone who has been riding for a long time. In their mind they have this mental image of an experienced rider and when you watch a good rider, it looks absolutely effortless. You don't see any of what they are doing.

>> Merry Lucero:
These lessons, learning how the motorcycle responds and the importance of protective gear, including the number one item --

>> Mark Weiss:
The airbags in your car or your seat belt, it's something that you hope you never, ever have to use. On a motorcycle it's got to be a helmet. You know, head injuries are the number one cause of motorcyclist deaths and they are probably the easiest injury to reduce.

>> Merry Lucero:
Helmet laws vary widely state by state. Only a few have none at all. Many, as in Arizona, require no helmets for adults.

>> Mark Weiss:
It's a touchy subject. I, like a lot of other motorcyclists don't like the idea of being told what to do. I think that everybody should wear a helmet. I think more people should ride motorcycles too, and a lot of people don't agree with that, but helmets work. It's common sense.

>> Merry Lucero:
And the one item of essential safety advice?

>> Mark Weiss:
The best thing you can do, and it's not just for motorcyclists, it apply to his anybody who drives. Pay attention and think about what you are doing. Think about what is going to happen, what are the consequences of the actions that you are taking, because ultimately, that's what is going to determine whether or not you are going to be a safe vehicle operator or you are going to run into trouble.

>> Michael Grant:
Here to talk more about motorcycle safety, Mark Weiss, training director of Team Arizona and a member of the State Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, and Barry Cohen, communications director for the Brain Injury Association of Arizona. Welcome to you both. Mark, what triggered this is May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Who knew? I mean, I haven't seen a whole lot of --

>> Mark Weiss:
Arizona has a very small riding community, so things like that don't tend to get out, but nationally, May is motorcycle awareness month, and in other states that have a beginning to a riding season and an end to a riding season, May sort of marks the beginning of good weather when people can get out there and ride on a regular basis.

>> Michael Grant:
Good point, whereas here --

>> Mark Weiss:
We can ride all year.

>> Michael Grant:
Well surely, but our good season is October to April.

>> Mark Weiss:
For some people, things are winding down right now.

>> Michael Grant:
Precisely so. Let me ask you about a couple of the things that I mentioned in the intro copy to the package. Why -- obviously we have an increase in rider-ship, but why the increase in motorcycle accident deaths among riders over 40? Do we have theories as to that?

>> Mark Weiss:
That group is the most rapidly growing group of new riders. At the motorcycle school at T.E.A.M. Arizona where I teach, the 40-55-year-old group is our largest single age group for riders, and naturally, wherever you have the greatest number of new riders, that is going to be the group that has the riders with least experience on the road, and that's where the problems are going to occur. So that's why they are being singled out.

>> Michael Grant:
Fatalities increasing more than 200\% nationwide over the past decade. Why? Or what do you think?

>> Mark Weiss:
More inexperienced riders on the road.

>> Michael Grant:
They are a companion on both?

>> Mark Weiss:
Motorcycle riding is a complex task. There is a lot to do. When you watch somebody riding, you don't really realize all that goes into it, and a lot of people get into the sport or activity or recreation of riding a motorcycle without realizing how much they have to do and how substantial an activity it is, and they sort of get into it casually.

>> Michael Grant:
Helmet use and brain injury, Barry, is why you are here. Helmet use -- is helmet use increasing among motorcycle riders or not?

>> Barry Cohen:
Well, there is no helmet law in Arizona now, so it's declined in the last couple of years, and along with that, we've seen an increase in the number of traumatic brain injuries suffered by people riding motorcycles. Vehicle crashes are the number one cause of traumatic brain injury nationwide as well as in Arizona, and a growing number of those are people riding motorcycles.

>> Michael Grant:
I guess the hope is that sometimes -- I'm not sure it necessarily works this way -- but sometimes you won't need a law to tell people to do good things, they'll sort of wake up to it themselves, and I guess what you are indicating to me is there is no reason to think that's occurring in this particular area?

>> Barry Cohen:
No, I mean, we're doing what we can to educate people. We don't want customers. We don't want people. We are an information referral service to people who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, but the other part of our mission is prevention. What we do is encourage people if you are going to ride motorcycles to wear helmets. We have a woman in our office who has worked there three years, and she made a decision when she bought a motorcycle that she would always wear a helmet. The wisdom of that decision has been reinforced by what she's seen over the past two to three years working in our office, that people who come to us, seeking our services, who have ridden a motorcycle without a helmet and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark, how many states require them? Arizona does not?

>> Mark Weiss:
I don't remember the exact number. I think a third of the states have mandatory helmet use for all riders. The rest of the states have limited helmet law like here, where minors are required to wear them but when you are over 18 you are not. That's fairly common. There are very few states that if you can show the state that you have some minimal level of health insurance, they'll allow you to ride without a helmet, you can take the risk if you are going to pay for the consequences, I suppose, and there are a few states that have no helmet requirements at all for any operators.

>> Michael Grant:
And obviously, brain injury would be just one of the most debilitating injuries that you can possibly have?

>> Barry Cohen:
Yeah, I mean, it's very debilitating, in addition to rehabilitation and the consequences of a brain injury can run up to $2 million. It has tremendous consequences not only for the individual who survived the brain injury, the rehab, but the family, the consequences of that. The person often has behavior and actions that are very disruptive to the entire family.

>> Michael Grant:
Barry Cohen, thank you for joining us this evening.

>> Barry Cohen:
Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark Weiss, thanks to you as well. To see transcripts of "Horizon" and find out about upcoming topics, go to our web site www.azpbs.org.

>> Mike Sauceda:
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot prohibit or restrict the sales of wines across state lines simply to protect their economic interests. That ruling means such laws in Arizona and other states are no longer valid. Learn more about the ruling from the Arizona lawyer who tried the case Thursday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
And tomorrow night, please join us for -- or Friday night, join us for the Journalists' Roundtable edition of "Horizon." Thank you very much for joining us on a Wednesday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one, good night.


Motorcycle safety


  • May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Find out how you can be safer on the road whether you are on a motorcycle or driving next to one.
Guests:
  • Tom Horne - Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Joanne Hilde - State Board of education


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," passing the aims test just might have gotten a little easier because of a vote by the State Board of Education, as well as a bill passed by state lawmakers. Plus, May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Find out how you can be safer on the road whether you are on a motorcycle or driving next to one. That's next on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." It was election night in parts of the state last night. In Mesa, residents approved $84 million in taxpayer incentives for the Riverview Project, which will feature a Wal-Mart Super Center and a Bass Pro Shops store. Cave Creek voters approved a $50 million bond for town improvements. Scottsdale okayed $3 million for all-day kindergarten starting in the fall. And Flagstaff voters said no on prop 100, by just 365 votes. The proposition would have put limits on big box stores. After a couple days of debate and consideration of advice from testing experts and a teacher committee, the Arizona State Board of Education voted to reduce the passing scores for the reading and math sections of the aims test. For math, the score was reduced to 60\% correct from 71\%. The passing score for reading was reduced to 59\% correct from 72\%. While most board members expressed concerns about lowering of the scores, they still voted 9-1 to do it. Member Michael Crow, ASU president, did not attend the vote. Only Arizona State schools chief Tom Horne voted against lowering the passing scores. Joining me now is Arizona superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne. And member of the state Board of education, Joanne Hilde. Welcome to you both. Let's start this over again. No, let's not do that. Jo Ann, I am struggling and I suspect most of the State's population is struggling with how what almost all of us universally think of as a failing or a near failing grade suddenly could become passing. Can you try to explain this to me and the rest of the viewing audience?

>> Joanne Hilde:
I think what's important to realize is that's not what that number represents, and I know that traditionally a 59 or a 60 has always represented failing, but that's not what the number represents now. What that represents is rather the performance objectives that students have to pass in order to complete that particular test. For example, in mathematics, there are certain performance objectives that a 5th grader has to know, and that committee of 144 educators, community members, parents and school board members, they made the decision of what performance objectives a student must know at that particular grade level. Reaffirmed it on four different occasions. So their goal was not to talk about numbers, but rather what does a student have to know and be able to do by the end of the year. And I understand the numbers are confusing.

>> Michael Grant:
Joanne why doesn't it say to this to me, though. If you have to drop the passing score that low, why doesn't it say to me that the test is misdesigned, that we designed it wrong, it's not accurately measuring how we're doing in teaching students what we think they ought to know to graduate from, well, 3rd grade all the way up to high school, I guess? Why doesn't it say that to me?

>> Joanne Hilde:
Well, the number itself doesn't say that, only because that's the traditional. And the test itself, this was a new test this year. That's why cut scores and that development was necessary to set the new standards based on a new test. This test is appropriate. We are -- we're confident that it's a good test. All of the items in this test were developed by Arizona teachers who have themselves been involved with the standards for many, many years. And Superintendent Horne has used this test as an example of what's putting Arizona on the leading edge in testing.

>> Michael Grant:
Tom, I think the whole concept of aims was a three-step process. Number one; let's figure out what students should know at certain levels. Number two; let's design a test that measures what they should know. And number three, let's administer that test, both the test of the students and whether or not they are getting it, as well as whether or not the schools are imparting it. Now, if you have to drop passing to 60 or 59\%, why aren't you basically saying that, you know, we may have messed up all three of those things?

>> Tom Horne:
Well, Michael, let me first of all point out -- I voted against dropping the passing score from 71 to 60 or 72 to 59\%. I thought we should have kept the passing scores that we had, precisely because of the perceptions that you are talking about.

>> Michael Grant:
We were talking about 1500 students here with this drop accommodated, am I correct out of a universe of --

>> Tom Horne:
63,000. It's a comparatively small number of students affected. In other words if we had kept last year's passing score of 71\% and 72\%, about 1500 students would have failed that otherwise are passing out of 63,000. A fairly small number. They would have still had two more chances to pass the test and I think the additional study would have done them good. I thought it would be a good idea to keep the low passing scores. Those kids would have to study more and pass a subsequent test. I can understand the -- the other members of the board felt that the process we set up was a very good process. We had 144 teachers, principals, superintendents, who spent three long days working very hard, looking not at the numbers of questions, but what they did was they ranked the questions from the easiest to the hardest and looked at them and said which one constitutes proficiency.

>> Michael Grant:
What they are saying, if I understand this correctly, is listen when you hit 60 on math at whatever grade level, you are doing what we think you should do and that just seems intuitively out of whack to me.

>> Tom Horne:
40\% of the questions on the test were above what they considered to be proficiency. You have to have a spectrum of questions so you can divide out the better students, too. Because we also have meets the standards and exceeds the standards, and the Board of Regents at my request passed a resolution saying they would give a full tuition scholarship to students who exceeded the standards in all three tests. So the exceeds is important as well. So you couldn't simply have questions on the tests that were at the level of proficiency. You had to have some at below the level and a number that were above the level of proficiency on the test.

>> Michael Grant:
Joanne can you give me an example of what we're talking about here?

>> Joanne Hilde:
Well, I think that 40\% of questions represents those questions above, but in that 60\%, you have all of those questions, all the way -- there will be students who will answer the question that puts them into a meets category and then you'll have that full spectrum of meets that just meets all the way through to the excelling. So, it's not like it's a narrow band, it's a very large band. And it's not really -- I know that it sounds like percentages and that we lowered percentages. That was not our intent at all. We regret that that message is the message that goes out because we really felt that we had focused on the standards, the performance objectives, and what we believe kids need to know. And I -- that's what the whole process was doing. We also had a national group of experts on testing who said the process and its end results were all appropriate and fair.

>> Tom Horne:
I want to point out that the -- that had we kept the old percentages, we still would have gone from 50\% passing math to 70\% passing math, and the focus would have been hey, the teacher is doing a better job teaching and the kids are studying harder because 70\% is how many graduate if there were no high stakes tests. One of the things that I regret about lowering that percentage, even though it had a minor impact on the number of kids it affected is it's causing people to focus on the lowering of the percentage rather than causing people to focus on the fact that our tutoring programs are working, our schools are doing better, and the kids are answering the questions a lot better, even at the old percentages we would have gone from 50 to 70\% of the kids passing the math test.

>> Michael Grant:
You mentioned 50\% to 70\% with these adjustments lowering to 60 and 59.

>> Tom Horne:
No, that would have been on the old percentages.

>> Michael Grant:
I understand. What are the new percentages? In other words, it's 73\% pass as a result of having dropped the percentages?

>> Tom Horne:
That's right, just 1500 more kids.

>> Michael Grant:
Let me try this, because I'm still trying to understand it. Let's say that our math objective in high school is you need to know algebra, okay?

>> Joanne Hilde:
Okay, and geometry but algebra is a good start.

>> Michael Grant:
Are you effectively saying that 40\% of the questions on the test teach to calculus and trig? In other words, a level of math higher than the ones that we want to expect of graduating students?

>> Joanne Hilde:
No, that's not how the range of questions works because the performance objectives themselves have a range within them of difficulty. Algebra itself builds --

>> Tom Horne:
There is harder algebra and easier algebra. How hard algebra do you have to be able to do.

>> Michael Grant:
I think that's still illustrative of the point that I'm making even if I chose CALC and trig. The point is you are not only trying to measure algebra, you are trying to measure algebra proficiency at a certain level.

>> Joanne Hilde:
That's correct.

>> Michael Grant:
In this case it turned out to be 60\%.

>> Tom Horne:
Exactly. And that determination made by 144 educators who are closeted for three days like a jury that's closeted, and they work very hard to determine what they believe constitutes proficiency.

>> Michael Grant:
Here's the suspicion by most and dispel it if you can. This was a dumbing down of the aims test?

>> Joanne Hilde:
And it wasn't a dumbing down. I never heard in those three days anybody talk about backing away from standards that have rigor and instruction that has rigor, but rather, the numbers just worked differently on a new test. Those old numbers worked on the old test, with a new test, we had to have new numbers. And this is what the new numbers look like. They are -- from the participants' view and the majority of the state board concurred, nine members of it, that it was appropriate to use the new scale scores, the new percentages.

>> Michael Grant:
I made the comment on the Friday edition, Tom, last week, that this development combined with the legislature giving credits for As, Bs and Cs, why don't we throw the aims test away?

>> Tom Horne:
I was opposed to what the legislature did. I spoke to the legislators and asked them not to do it. I will issue a superintendent certificate to those students who pass all three aims tests, so that employers who want to know what graduates have demonstrated on an objective test, that they are proficient in reading, writing and math. They can say do you have a superintendent's certificate. That will be a -- very much like a differentiated diploma, so there will be--

>> Michael Grant:
So you'll know this person passed the aims test, not the extra credit for an A, B or C in their English class?

>> Tom Horne:
Exactly, those allowed to graduate by getting extra credits credit for their grades will not get a superintendent certificate. Do you want to know is a graduate proficient which was what this test was supposed to establish, ask to see the superintendent's certificate and that will tell you whether or not the student was proficient in reading, writing and math as demonstrated on an objective reasonable test.

>> Michael Grant:
But Joanne, given the combination of these two developments, have we come eyeball to eyeball with possibly flunking a lot of people and we blinked?

>> Joanne Hilde:
No, I don't think so. I think the universal message I get when I'm with school people in their school buildings, in other events, talking to parents, people want the aims to stay. Teachers know that they are teaching with greater efficiency. They are learning new methods. Aims is really an instrument in progress.

>> Michael Grant:
It just seems like we are not willing to take the consequences of a decision. You can argue with this decision. I have varying thoughts about it from time to time, but it seems to me that having made the decision, leaving the impression that we're sticking with the decision, in essence what a lot of these developments means is that we're really not doing what our lips are saying. We are not sticking with the decision.

>> Joanne Hilde:
I think the move by the legislature was partly based on the pressures they hear in terms of a wide variety of concerns that parents legitimately have. One of our concerns that the board has discussed has been the changing, evolving nature of aims. So the sense that this -- the graduating class of 2006 has seen a multitude of aims go past them and that -- and what we hope now is that this new test is truly the foundation that we can go forward. What the legislature did is just a bridge for two years, 2006, 2007.

>> Tom Horne:
It wasn't a matter of blinking. Had the legislature listened to me and not made that change and had the board listened to me they would have gone from 50-07\% of kids passing math with two more tries to go, which would have constituted 97\% of those who graduated if there were no high stakes test that would have passed the math test. The schools are doing much better at teaching the standards, the tutoring is working and in that sense the aims is accomplishing a lot.

>> Michael Grant:
We're out of time. Tom, thank you very much. Joanne, our thanks to you as well. I'll continue to struggle with this concept.

>> Michael Grant:
They are called "rubs," rich urban bikers. Baby boomers finding a new life with some new wheels, two of them. This flock of urban riders as well as older returning bikers are driving up motorcycle license registrations across the country, with a sharp rise here in Arizona, a 37\% increase in the past five years. But also on the increase, motorcycle accident deaths among riders over 40. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle crash fatalities jumped more than 200\% nationwide over the past decade. Producer Merry Lucero and Videographer Richard Torruellas show us some riders learning how to avoid becoming a statistic.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
When you approach those cones, what do we do to stop? Clutch, brakes, left foot down. Right? Okay, does anybody have any questions?

>> Merry Lucero:
Motorcyclists in the basic rider course at Team Arizona in Gilbert, start off learning fundamental riding skills.

>> Mark Weiss:
That's a class for someone who either has never ever ridden before or may have ridden at some point in their life but maybe it's been 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years ago and they are getting back into riding and they recognize that there is a lot to know.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
Nice and smoothly to increase your speed.

>> Merry Lucero:
Students are learning to be more aware of traffic and every day riding situations, preparing to deal with the risks involved with riding a motorcycle.

>> Mark Weiss:
On a motorcycle, it's of special importance because we don't have all of the built-in protection systems we get in a car. We don't have a metal cage, airbags, seat belts and bumpers. It's us, it's the rider. So paying attention and thinking ahead is crucial to being a safe motorcycle operator.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
Reach out, squeeze. See you pinch it here and that way it doesn't roll. See how that locks the throttle off so you can squeeze? That way it won't go like this at the same time.

>> Merry Lucero:
And the typical motorcycle operator in this class?

>> Mark Weiss:
Well, we actually see most of our riders are between 35 and 50 years old. Most of them are beginners, about a third of them are female. About a third of them have some riding background. The rest of them don't.

>> Merry Lucero:
They have had students in their late 70s or early 80s.

>> Mark Weiss:
In the past five or six years we've seen a big increase in the 40-55-year-old riders. It has been a noticeable increase in that group.

>> Motorcyclist Instructor:
You shoot one to the other. All right, everybody start 'em up, single file. You are going to ride single file up the clutch control lane and Mike is going to split you up into breaking chutes. Spread out, ride slow in first gear.

>> Merry Lucero:
Weiss says sometimes older riders are surprised at how physically demanding motorcycle riding can be.

>> Mark Weiss:
One thing I noticed is a lot of middle aged riders coming into the beginning rider course typically know someone who has been riding for a long time. In their mind they have this mental image of an experienced rider and when you watch a good rider, it looks absolutely effortless. You don't see any of what they are doing.

>> Merry Lucero:
These lessons, learning how the motorcycle responds and the importance of protective gear, including the number one item --

>> Mark Weiss:
The airbags in your car or your seat belt, it's something that you hope you never, ever have to use. On a motorcycle it's got to be a helmet. You know, head injuries are the number one cause of motorcyclist deaths and they are probably the easiest injury to reduce.

>> Merry Lucero:
Helmet laws vary widely state by state. Only a few have none at all. Many, as in Arizona, require no helmets for adults.

>> Mark Weiss:
It's a touchy subject. I, like a lot of other motorcyclists don't like the idea of being told what to do. I think that everybody should wear a helmet. I think more people should ride motorcycles too, and a lot of people don't agree with that, but helmets work. It's common sense.

>> Merry Lucero:
And the one item of essential safety advice?

>> Mark Weiss:
The best thing you can do, and it's not just for motorcyclists, it apply to his anybody who drives. Pay attention and think about what you are doing. Think about what is going to happen, what are the consequences of the actions that you are taking, because ultimately, that's what is going to determine whether or not you are going to be a safe vehicle operator or you are going to run into trouble.

>> Michael Grant:
Here to talk more about motorcycle safety, Mark Weiss, training director of Team Arizona and a member of the State Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, and Barry Cohen, communications director for the Brain Injury Association of Arizona. Welcome to you both. Mark, what triggered this is May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Who knew? I mean, I haven't seen a whole lot of --

>> Mark Weiss:
Arizona has a very small riding community, so things like that don't tend to get out, but nationally, May is motorcycle awareness month, and in other states that have a beginning to a riding season and an end to a riding season, May sort of marks the beginning of good weather when people can get out there and ride on a regular basis.

>> Michael Grant:
Good point, whereas here --

>> Mark Weiss:
We can ride all year.

>> Michael Grant:
Well surely, but our good season is October to April.

>> Mark Weiss:
For some people, things are winding down right now.

>> Michael Grant:
Precisely so. Let me ask you about a couple of the things that I mentioned in the intro copy to the package. Why -- obviously we have an increase in rider-ship, but why the increase in motorcycle accident deaths among riders over 40? Do we have theories as to that?

>> Mark Weiss:
That group is the most rapidly growing group of new riders. At the motorcycle school at T.E.A.M. Arizona where I teach, the 40-55-year-old group is our largest single age group for riders, and naturally, wherever you have the greatest number of new riders, that is going to be the group that has the riders with least experience on the road, and that's where the problems are going to occur. So that's why they are being singled out.

>> Michael Grant:
Fatalities increasing more than 200\% nationwide over the past decade. Why? Or what do you think?

>> Mark Weiss:
More inexperienced riders on the road.

>> Michael Grant:
They are a companion on both?

>> Mark Weiss:
Motorcycle riding is a complex task. There is a lot to do. When you watch somebody riding, you don't really realize all that goes into it, and a lot of people get into the sport or activity or recreation of riding a motorcycle without realizing how much they have to do and how substantial an activity it is, and they sort of get into it casually.

>> Michael Grant:
Helmet use and brain injury, Barry, is why you are here. Helmet use -- is helmet use increasing among motorcycle riders or not?

>> Barry Cohen:
Well, there is no helmet law in Arizona now, so it's declined in the last couple of years, and along with that, we've seen an increase in the number of traumatic brain injuries suffered by people riding motorcycles. Vehicle crashes are the number one cause of traumatic brain injury nationwide as well as in Arizona, and a growing number of those are people riding motorcycles.

>> Michael Grant:
I guess the hope is that sometimes -- I'm not sure it necessarily works this way -- but sometimes you won't need a law to tell people to do good things, they'll sort of wake up to it themselves, and I guess what you are indicating to me is there is no reason to think that's occurring in this particular area?

>> Barry Cohen:
No, I mean, we're doing what we can to educate people. We don't want customers. We don't want people. We are an information referral service to people who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, but the other part of our mission is prevention. What we do is encourage people if you are going to ride motorcycles to wear helmets. We have a woman in our office who has worked there three years, and she made a decision when she bought a motorcycle that she would always wear a helmet. The wisdom of that decision has been reinforced by what she's seen over the past two to three years working in our office, that people who come to us, seeking our services, who have ridden a motorcycle without a helmet and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark, how many states require them? Arizona does not?

>> Mark Weiss:
I don't remember the exact number. I think a third of the states have mandatory helmet use for all riders. The rest of the states have limited helmet law like here, where minors are required to wear them but when you are over 18 you are not. That's fairly common. There are very few states that if you can show the state that you have some minimal level of health insurance, they'll allow you to ride without a helmet, you can take the risk if you are going to pay for the consequences, I suppose, and there are a few states that have no helmet requirements at all for any operators.

>> Michael Grant:
And obviously, brain injury would be just one of the most debilitating injuries that you can possibly have?

>> Barry Cohen:
Yeah, I mean, it's very debilitating, in addition to rehabilitation and the consequences of a brain injury can run up to $2 million. It has tremendous consequences not only for the individual who survived the brain injury, the rehab, but the family, the consequences of that. The person often has behavior and actions that are very disruptive to the entire family.

>> Michael Grant:
Barry Cohen, thank you for joining us this evening.

>> Barry Cohen:
Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark Weiss, thanks to you as well. To see transcripts of "Horizon" and find out about upcoming topics, go to our web site www.azpbs.org.

>> Mike Sauceda:
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot prohibit or restrict the sales of wines across state lines simply to protect their economic interests. That ruling means such laws in Arizona and other states are no longer valid. Learn more about the ruling from the Arizona lawyer who tried the case Thursday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
And tomorrow night, please join us for -- or Friday night, join us for the Journalists' Roundtable edition of "Horizon." Thank you very much for joining us on a Wednesday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one, good night.



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