Arizona public school students’ proficiency levels statewide on the AzMERIT have shown steady growth over the past four years that the test has been given to measure students’ mastery of Arizona academic standards.
Third- through eighth-graders take grade level assessments in English/language arts and mathematics, while high school students take end of course assessments to test their proficiency in the English and math courses they take. Students who score proficient or higher are considered to have passed AzMERIT.
Yet 40 percent of Arizona students continue to score “minimally proficient,” the lowest performance level.
“To see that we’re doing better over four years is heartening,” said Christine Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona in a recent Arizona Republic article. “That being said, there’s still a lot of room to grow. We are not where we need to be.”
Infographic by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
Click here for a larger version
Expect More Arizona created a progress meter in 2017 that set goals for student achievement by 2030 that included a 72 percent proficiency rate in third-grade English/language arts and 69 percent proficiency rate in eighth-grade math. This year 44 percent of third graders are proficient in English/language arts and 41 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math.
“Although most know that I think the AzMERIT test has a long way to go to become the most effective tool of student assessment in our state, I am pleased to announce that our students have improved in 26 or the 30 grade-level and test categories,” Douglas said. “While we still have much work to do, I congratulate all of our educators and students for widespread gains across the board.”
About 53 percent of third graders passed AzMERIT math, a six percent increase from the past year.
Ninety-eight percent of eighth graders taking Algebra II passed, a one percent increase from 2017.
Forty-eight percent of fifth graders passed English/language arts, a four percent rise from the previous year.
Also, 41 percent of high school freshman passed English/language arts, a five percent increase from 2017.
And 39 percent of eighth graders passed English/language arts, a five percent rise from the previous year.
When results are available
Schools received students results through the Arizona Department of Education’s online reporting system in May, and parents will receive their children’s individual score reports in September.
AzMERIT results figure prominently in the calculation of school letter grades in the state’s A-F accountability system for schools, which the Arizona State Board of Education released to schools this summer and will be released to the public in the fall on azreportcards.com.
The results for the Multi-State Alternate Assessment – a comprehensive assessment system designed to promote increasing higher academic outcomes for students with significant cognitive disabilities – was not included in the Arizona Department of Education’s release of AzMERIT data on August 16, 2018, because the department needs to conduct a standards validation.
Arizona Department of Education has told schools and the Arizona State Board of Education that those results will be delayed this year and will be posted on ADE’s website when that process is complete.
Changes for next year
Next year, schools will be able to choose whether they want to give students AzMERIT or one of the other tests approved by the Arizona State Board of Education after the Arizona Legislature passed Senate Bill 1449 during last session, which allows the board to create a list of alternate assessments schools can choose from.
Tucson, Flowing Wells and Sunnyside unified school districts were among the handful of districts that decided to administer the ACT to high school students this school year instead of AzMERIT, according to an Arizona Daily Star article. Schools had until July 1, 2018 to notify the state that they would be using an alternate assessment.