Arizona students made gains in reading and held steady in math last school year, data for the state’s high-stakes AIMS test released Monday show.

Reading pass rates climbed slightly, from 78 percent of students passing last year to 79 percent this year.

The state managed to hold steady at 61 percent passing math after several years of declining scores.

Locally, the Amphitheater, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Marana, Sahuarita, Tanque Verde and Vail districts were either on par or outperformed the state average in both the math and reading measures. The city’s two largest school districts — Tucson Unified and Sunnyside Unified — however, fell short.

In TUSD, only 50 percent of students passed math and 71 percent passed reading — the same level of achievement as last year. Sunnyside was even further behind, with only 41 percent of students passing the math test and 67 percent passing reading. Though low, the reading performance is 1 percentage point higher than last year.

“We see we have work to do in multiple areas, but we have spent time working on our math and reading curriculum,” said TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez. “If the curriculum is engaging and interesting, it will help boost student performance.”

Like many districts, TUSD is rolling out a beefed-up early-literacy model in response to the Move on When Reading policy, which went into effect in the spring. The policy calls for those who fall far below on the AIMS reading standard in the third grade to be held back.

With years to plan for the change, the state saw the number of third-graders who fell far below in reading decrease from 4,356 in 2011 to 2,206 in 2014.

Had the Move on When Reading standards been in place in 2011, more than 1,600 students would have been impacted, compared with the 602 that were affected now.

Each year, Arizona students in grades three through eight and 10th grade are required to take AIMS to measure their mastery of math, reading, writing and science.

Whether students will take AIMS again this year is unknown, as the state is in the process of possibly selecting a new assessment tool. Students will, however, continue to take the science portion of AIMS.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.