November 03, 2014
Earlier today, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching (AzMERIT) as the new statewide test. The assessment will be given to Arizona students in 3rd grade through high school this spring and will replace the AIMS test in reading, writing and math.
The test will be administered by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a private, not-for-profit test vendor, and will be overseen and controlled by Arizona. The test will be unique to Arizona and will engage Arizona educators and education experts in developing questions for the new assessment. The assessment will also draw from AIR’s work in other states to ensure that student test information is comparable across states.
WHY A NEW TEST?
While testing is sometimes not fun, parents and teachers agree that assessments are important tools that provide valuable information to support student learning. The new tests will be aligned to what is being taught in classrooms today and will help parents and teachers know if our students are on track to succeed.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW TEST
- At the high school level, assessments will be given at the end of English and math courses, similar to a final exam.
- Passing the end-of-course tests will not be a high school graduation requirement.
- School districts and charter schools can choose to administer the assessment via pencil/paper or on a computer.
- Personal student data has never been, and never will be, shared with the federal government. Student test data is protected via a number of state and federal laws. including: A.R.S. §§ 15-1041 through 15-1045, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).
- The new test replaces AIMS in reading, writing and math, but the AIMS science test will still be given to students in Grades 4, 8 and high school.
NEW TEST, DIFFERENT SCORES
The new tests will also help Arizona set a more realistic benchmark for student performance. Because we have a completely new test, scores will look different and may be lower than before; however, this doesn’t mean that our students are doing worse. Instead, the scores will provide a more accurate view of how our students are performing. Both students and teachers will need time to adjust to the new assessment. With time and our support, we know Arizona students will rise to the challenge.
There are a number of details that need to be determined about how the assessment will be implemented and how scores will be used for students, teachers and schools. The State Board of Education is meeting in December to discuss the potential of a hold harmless year that would give teachers, schools and students flexibility with accountability measures while they adjust to the new tests.
The Arizona Department of Education is working to address implementation issues, including when the testing window will be and how the new test will be delivered.
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