AzMERIT scores were released to schools earlier this summer, but the real discussion will start when parents receive their children’s individual score reports nearly a month after this school year starts.
Schools received student results through the online reporting system on May 25 and paper reports on June 20, but parents will receive their children’s individual score reports in September.
Over the past three years of AzMERIT, students have shown gradual improvement on this assessment of state math and language arts standards, yet many students continue to score “minimally proficient,” the lowest performance level, according to a recent article in The Arizona Republic.
Official AzMERIT results, which include demographic breakdowns and performance by school type – district, charter and alternative – will be released Sept. 18, and they will figure prominently in the calculation of school letter grades in the state’s newly adopted A-F accountability system for schools. School letter grades will be released Sept. 18 on azreportcards.com.
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What parents should know
The first thing parents will see on the AzMERIT score report is a gauge that shows their student’s proficiency level and how students in the same grade level performed at their child’s school, school district and the state average. When they turn the score report over, parents will see how their child performed in key areas of math and language arts, along with a description of what was assessed and what the results mean.
Parents should use their child’s AzMERIT results to look for areas in mathematics and language arts where their child can improve. Then parents should talk to the child’s teacher about the results to find resources to help their child at home and in the classroom and learn how instruction will be adjusted to meet students’ needs.
Expect More Arizona created a parent resource center on its website to help parents understand the standards and provide resources and tools they can use to help their children master these skills and succeed and a one-page resource on AzMERIT as well.
It’s important for parents to remember that AzMERIT results are just one of many measurements of children’s academic progress, that scores will rise over time and that the assessment tests real-world skills and solutions, said Christie Silverstein, vice president of public engagement with Expect More Arizona.
Calculating the new A-F letter grades
How students performed will also be used to determine how well individual district and charter schools and school districts are doing.
Since AzMERIT results make up so much of the new A-F accountability system, it makes sense that the school grades won’t be released until official AzMERIT scores are made public in September.
For K-8 elementary schools, 50 percent of the school letter grade comes from student growth on AzMERIT, 30 percent depends on students who score partially proficient, proficient or highly proficient, 10 percent relies on the proficiency and growth of English Language Learners and 10 percent depends on acceleration or readiness measures such as students in grade 5-8 taking and passing end of course math exams for algebra 1, geometry, or algebra 2, a reduction in third-graders who score minimally proficient, reducing the schools chronic absenteeism percentage, improvement in subgroup proficiency, and schools that have greater than the state average of 7 percent of special education students in the general education classroom at least 80 percent of the school day.
For high schools with grades 9-12, 30 percent of their school letter grade depends on students who score partially proficient, proficient or highly proficient on AzMERIT, 20 percent relies on the graduation rate, 20 percent comes from college and career readiness such as increasing post-secondary or military enrollment, 20 percent depends on student growth on the statewide assessment, and 10 percent relies on the proficiency and growth of English Language Learners.