In order to get a more accurate perspective of AIMSweb we interviewed an acting professional Mandy Shanks, the school psychologist at Lincoln Trail Elementary School in Mahomet, Illinois. In summary Shanks described the AIMSweb assessment as "a
screener or benchmark to identify students who need intervention". The assessment is then set up to progress monitor students in those areas to determine their
growth rate and improvement in the intervention or lack of and the need to make
a change. In Shanks opinion she finds the probes to be very helpful but is not a "super fan" of the graphing system. "It is great if you want to measure a student's
growth compared to the goal you set for them but it does not allow
you to make direct comparisons to the average (in regards to each point)". Instead the program gives you a scatter box plots. Opinions on the scatter box plot varies but Shank does not enjoy them. Other downsides of the assessment were the price. "It can be expensive if you put all of your students in the system" but she does find the national norms they provide to be very beneficial.
We had the privilege of speaking with Rebecca Billiter from Kingsley Junior High. Rebecca has been a school psychologist at Kingsley for about 20 years. When speaking with her about AIMSweb, she disclosed that the reading assessment came to the junior high about 3 or 4 years ago. With that being said, the programming is fairly new for most people within Kingsley. The AIMSweb program at Kingsley is the first version of AIMSweb or AIMSweb 1.0. Rebecca stated how AIMSweb is used as a benchmarking and progress monitoring tool for the RTI process. After AIMSweb arrived at Kingsley, Rebecca stated how the staff was able to receive training. She discussed how she did desire more training so that the individuals using the assessment would be fully prepared. As for the administrators of the test, Kingsley has the Learning Behavior Specialist (LBS) administer the assessment to students. Rebecca did note that she has had experience administering AIMSweb but typically it is handled by the Learning Behavior Specialists. The population of students that are administered AIMSweb include students in special education and Tier 3 students. These are students who have identified as needing further instruction and progress monitoring. A criticism of the reading assessment includes that she does not enjoy the amount of paperwork that is featured with AIMSweb. Since mostly everything in AIMSweb is paper and pencil, there is an enormous amount of copying to be done. From this, a lot of time is taken up to organize and straighten out all of the paperwork. Another criticism she has of the assessment is within the area of comprehension. She stated how AIMSweb does not always correlate with other testing such as Fountas and Pinnell. Rebecca did demonstrate that there are aspects of AIMSweb that she does enjoy. These include that the standardization of the assessment is consistent which provides beneficial data. She noted how the test provides visuals and graphs of each student so you are able to see their progression over time. Overall, Rebecca demonstrated that AIMSweb has proved to be valuable for the students as well as the staff at Kingsley Junior High and that both growth and progress are being seen.