• AzMERIT Update

    October 2015
    In November 2014, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted a new statewide achievement test for Arizona students called AzMERIT. This new assessment was given to Arizona students in grades 3 through high school for the first time in spring 2015. It replaces the previously administered AIMS test in reading, writing and math. AIMS Science tests were still given to students in grades 4, 8 and in high school.
    In a few short weeks, we will be sharing your child’s results from last year with you. You will receive a comprehensive family score report with detailed information about how your child performed on both the English language arts and math portions of the AzMERIT test. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
    • Teachers have multiple ways they measure student learning. AzMERIT is just one of those tools. Throughout the school year, there are many ways teachers assess how students are doing in their classroom, including classwork, homework, quizzes, projects, and teacher and counselor observations about your child’s growth. The results from AzMERIT should be used along with all of this information to ensure your child is on track to succeed.
    • This is a transition year for Arizona schools. AzMERIT looks different from previous tests because it is a new test and is setting a higher bar for what students need to know and be able to do. Teachers, students, and parents are all making adjustments and getting used to the modified way teachers are teaching and students are learning. This year’s test results may seem lower than what you have come to expect from your child. There is no need to be alarmed, because that is what we expect during this transition. It doesn’t mean your child is doing worse. Instead the scores will provide a more accurate view of how your child is doing.
    • We are on the right track. Arizona is asking more from our students so they can achieve their full potential. The AzMERIT test goes beyond the previous bubble test by measuring a wide range of real-world skills, like critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis. For high school students, this exam is NOT required for graduation. It is, however, the most accurate tool available to measure whether your child is mastering the skills we expect of our young people.

    Parent-teacher conferences are an important time for you to connect with your school and teacher. During this fall’s conferences, teachers will let parents know when the 2015 AzMERIT score reports will be sent home for your school. This time period will be between October 30 and November 13.

    • Parents will receive one score report (two-sided) for both English language arts and math.
    • Your school will get two hard copies of each score report. One set goes home to the parent and the other stays at the school.

    August 13, 2015

    The Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards (AZCCRS) for reading and math set higher expectations for students. This means that expectations for student achievement are higher than they used to be with the previous AIMS state assessment. As state officials have recently reported, it is likely that fewer students will score at the higher achievement levels on the AzMERIT assessment, especially the first few years. These results do not mean that schools are performing worse or that students are learning less. The scores represent a new baseline from which our students will continue to grow as well as provide a more accurate indicator for educators, students, and parents. Our schools are working to make sure that students can meet the challenge of the AZCCRS standards and succeed in high school and beyond.

    Student scores from the 2015 spring AzMERIT test administration are due to schools in late October. A passing score on the AzMERIT indicates that a student is on track for a college or a career pathway upon graduation from high school. Currently, students do not need to pass the AzMERIT tests in order to graduate from high school. However, the results will help guide schools on alignment of curriculum, student learning trajectories, and appropriateness of supports that schools are providing for students and teachers.
     
    High school students who are enrolled in ELA 2, ELA 4, ELA 6, Algebra 2, Geometry 2, Algebra 4, and Algebra Applications (second semester) this fall, including honors or dual enrollment aligned levels of the courses, will take the AzMERIT End of Course Assessment within the testing window of October 6-December 4. High school students taking the above listed courses this spring will test during the testing window of March 29- May 6.

    Students in grades 3-8 will take AzMERIT Writing, Reading, and Math tests during the testing window of March 29-May 6, 2016. AzMERIT results for the 2015-16 school year are expected prior to the end of each semester.

    Because the AZCCRS standards set higher expectations for students and the AzMERIT assessments are designed to assess student performance against those higher standards, the bar has been raised. Over time the performance of students will improve as we have seen each time there is a major shift in testing. We have high expectations for our students and are confident in our teachers who are helping students grow academically in these areas, along with other subjects.

    This is certainly a big shift for our students and teachers—but one that holds great promise for our children. By making this transition, we are better preparing our students to meet the demands of college and the 21st century workforce. Our teachers and administrators are committed to working together to support students with great instruction and resources to meet these expectations.