AzMERIT update and what's next

In spring 2015, approximately 45,000 Mesa Public Schools students took the new AzMERIT assessment. 

AzMERIT picThe very first year of AzMERIT testing at Mesa Public Schools was a rousing success.

The Arizona State Board of Education replaced the AIMS Reading, Writing, and Math assessment with AzMERIT beginning spring 2015. After the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Arizona's College and Career Ready Standards in English language arts and mathematics in 2010, a new test was necessary to measure what students know and can do based on these standards. With higher standards, Arizona needed an assessment that reflects those expectations.

"The administration of the AzMERIT went very smoothly," says Scott Eshman, principal at O'Connor Elementary School. "As a result of the time invested in preparing our students for an online delivery model, the students approached the assessment with confidence. Students had a positive attitude."

Who took the test?

Approximately 45,000 Mesa Public Schools students took AzMERIT over a five-week period from March 30 to May 8. An estimated 32,000 students took the computer-based assessment, while 13,000 students took the test on paper.

"The majority of students liked the online nature of taking the exams," says Matt Van Holten, Taylor Junior High counselor. "They were more easily engaged on the computers than they typically are while testing through the standard paper and pencil format. Many reported that they did not find the test any more difficult than other types of standardized assessments they've taken in the past, which may indicate that the test did a good job of aligning with the standards taught throughout this year."

AzMERIT was given to students in grades three through 11, in English language arts and mathematics. At the high school level, it was an end-of-course test in English in ninth through 11th grade, and in Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry.

What's next?

Requirements to pass the test will not be known until late summer. However, in other states that implemented new standards and assessments, only 30 to 40 percent of students passed the tests in the first year. Similar results are expected to occur in Arizona. Passing AzMERIT is not a graduation requirement. On May 18, the Arizona State Board of Education approved new performance labels for AzMERIT performance. The labels are Highly Proficient, Proficient, Partially Proficient and Minimally Proficient.

Parents will receive their child's AzMERIT results this October or November. Results will be distributed to individual schools and sent home with students or during parent-teacher conferences. Results will be sent to the child's current school, regardless of where they took the test. For example, if a student took AzMERIT during their sixth-grade year at an elementary school, the results will be sent to their current junior high school.

"I actually thought taking the AzMERIT tests were fun," said a Mesa Academy seventh-grader. "It was intriguing, and kept me going without dying of boredom. There was only one question I couldn't answer, it was bugging me, and still is! Other than that, the tests are perfect the way they are. They are quite rigorous, having the right number of questions that challenges any tester." 

The dates for 2016 AzMERIT testing have not yet been confirmed by the Arizona State Board of Education. Once testing dates and information are official, parents will be notified.

(Photo by Tim Hacker/Mesa Public Schools)

 

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