The Arizona Department of Education released test results for the AzMERIT test, revealing failing results for a majority of students in Arizona. The Arizona State Board of Education decided in November of 2014, to adopt a new statewide achievement test, which they named the AzMERIT. This statewide achievement test was given to students in the state of Arizona, in grades 3 through 11, and focuses on Mathematics and English Language Arts. The first round of testing was given in spring of 2015. Early results showed no proficient or highly proficient scores, and now detailed data was released to give official test results.
Results across different grades
The new test is for elementary, middle, and high school students and results show that each level performed differently. Third and fourth grade students did the best, with about 40 percent passing both Math and English Language Arts. Fifth grade through eleventh grade test results show a decline in passing scores, from 35 to 36 percent. It was also determined that students who are of a minority or special needs status, did much worse on the exam. Faculty and staff were given only minimal time to prepare students, and themselves for the test. Because of this, education groups were not surprised to hear of failing grades. Scores were set too low, and the AzMERIT was much more difficult than testing in previous years. With education expectations raised throughout the state, teachers need more time to prepare students, which will hopefully improve scores in the future.
Testing for individuals with learning disabilities
Individual students with significant cognitive disabilities were allowed to take an alternate assessment, which offer a different set of standards than the AzMERIT. The NCSC (National Center and State Collaborative) administered the test to students with disabilities, and these students also did poorly. Special education teachers were given structural supports to help their students, but it didn’t seem to help, when looking at the final results. It was clear that even the alternate assessment set a pretty high standard for children with cognitive disabilities.
What does this mean moving forward?
Parents and educators were both able to take a look at how students are doing at their schools, compared to other schools across the state. With failing scores across the board, many are left wondering how these scores can be improved. Teachers first need to understand the test and the types of questions that the test will ask students. They can then incorporate those types of questions into their lessons, as they comply with Common Core standards. It is not something that is going to happen overnight. The AzMERIT test will be given again in spring of 2016. Arizona hopes to see an improvement in test scores, even if they are only minimal. It just takes time, and eventually, Arizona students will get there.
With new testing procedures and Common Core standards, it is clear that the education system is changing, and not just in Arizona. The nation is moving toward a change in providing children with the best opportunities to gain knowledge, which will help them on a global scale, as they move on with their education, and make it in the real world.