AzMERIT

Following are frequently asked questions Salt River Schools tailored for our stakeholders. The information was collected from multiple sources, including AzMERIT, the Arizona Department of Education and Expect More Arizona, a non-profit organization that promotes and advocates for Arizona’s K-12 students.

This infographic from AZEDNEWS (Arizona Education News Service) is a helpful visualization for parents and guardians regarding AzMERIT.


What is AzMERIT?

AzMERIT is a statewide assessment for students in grades 3-8 (elementary) and 9-12 (high school) that measures proficiency and growth in math and English language arts. The assessment is designed as a tool for parents, teachers and students to tell us if your child is on track to succeed in their current grade and in the future. You should use your child’s AzMERIT scores along with classroom assignments, homework, grades and your conversations with teachers to have a complete picture of how your child is doing.

When are the test results being released?

Student results were recently mailed home by the student's school and information about how to understand those results are available in the AzMERIT Online Reporting System. School letter grades for public school districts and charters are scheduled to be released October 9.

What should you take away from this report?

This AzMERIT score report helps you understand your child’s academic achievement. You can see how your child is performing in comparison to peers in the same grade level, school and Division. In addition to giving you an overall score, the report also breaks down each subject into categories to provide you with a better understanding of how your child performed in different areas of math and English.

How will my child’s score be used by Salt River Schools?

Scores will be used to better tailor instruction to individual student needs and give us a tool to see how students and schools across the state are doing.

How long will it be before I can see progress in my child’s score?

As teachers spend more time focusing on the content outlined in the new standards and students gain more practice with the skills, scores are expected to improve over time.

Why does my child’s score look different than scores on previous tests?

Because AzMERIT was a new test, the first year test scores set a new baseline from which progress will be measured. Your child’s score, as well as school and Division results, may appear lower over the past three years because the tests measure more complex skills including critical thinking, problem solving and analysis. A low score does not mean your child did not improve or learned less. It simply means that the expectations have been raised for students and the results provide a more accurate picture of how your child is progressing. These scores cannot be compared to previous test scores (such as AIMS) since they focus on different skills.

How can I use the assessment results to help my child improve?

You can use the test results to guide a discussion with your child’s teachers about additional supports or challenges that may be needed in class, as well as ways to support your child at home. Your child’s performance is broken down into categories in each subject. Therefore, you can use also this information to locate activities online that were designed specifically for each category at every grade level.

How is the AzMERIT assessment different from other tests?

  • AzMERIT focuses on measuring real-world skills. For example, students were asked to read complex passages, analyze them and write thoughtful responses, which is different from previous tests. This was also the first time a statewide test included a writing section at every grade level.
  • AzMERIT does not lend itself to teaching to the test. By moving away from simple fill in the bubble tests, the temptation to teach to the test was eliminated. The new tests emphasize applying skills over memorization. Strong teaching coupled with engaged learning throughout the year is the best way to prepare for this test. Since the standards ensure students are learning what they need to know, and the new tests are aligned to the standards, schools can now focus on what is most important, instead of test prep.
  • AzMERIT was administered entirely online. The use of technology in testing is relatively new within Salt River Schools. Utilizing more opportunities to use technology will provide students learn the 21st Century learning environment ahead of other testing changes coming to college entrance exams and career aptitude assessments.

 

What types of questions were on the test?

AzMERIT includes a number of different types of questions, including performance tasks that are multi-step assignments that ask students to apply their knowledge and skills to address real-world problems. In English, students have to apply their research and writing skills, and in math, they solve complex problems and then describe and defend their reasoning. The test also includes traditional multiple choice questions, as well as interactive questions that require students to drag and drop their answers into a box, create equations, and fill in the answer.

What help is available for students who have not reached proficiency on the standards?

Students who are not proficient are provided additional opportunities to learn. These opportunities may occur before, during or after school. Teachers work with students in small groups and individually to support them in learning the grade level standards. Teachers may invite parents/guardians to participate in a Response to Intervention (RtI) meeting where instructional experts can offer specialized suggestions for supporting the learning of the child. Teachers may offer before or after school tutoring.

Click this link for additional resources available for parents and students, which was compiled by Expect More Arizona.

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