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2021 Arizona State Assessment Results Indicate Need to Support Students and Educators After Pandemic

Author: Helios Education Foundation

August 27, 2021

Today, the Arizona Department of Education released the results of the 2021 AzMERIT State Assessment.  While the results are concerning, they are not completely unexpected given the upheaval in the education system over the past 18 months.

Overall, the passing rates in both English language arts (ELA) and math have decreased from 2019 with ELA passing rates dropping by 4 percent and math dropping by 11 percent.  Of significant concern to Helios is the highest decrease in ELA passing rates is in the third grade with an 11 percent decline.  Ensuring students are reading at grade level by the end of third-grade is critical to their future academic performance. The leadership provided by the Governor’s Office, Legislature, and Read On Arizona partners to anticipate the needed investment and policy around early literacy through the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and Senate Bill 1572 is especially important in light of these numbers. 

Another area of concern to Helios is the analysis of subgroup performance.  Low-income and Hispanic/Latino students had a decline in passing rates in ELA of 6 percent and in math of 14 percent.  This is confirmation that some of our most vulnerable students were impacted the most by COVID-19 and the challenges faced by schools.

These numbers indicate that there is much work to do to mitigate the academic declines that occurred over the pandemic as well as continue to ensure that all students are on a path toward college and career readiness.  It is critical that we continue to support our students as they are adjusting to in-person learning.  It is also critical that we support our educators as they work to understand their student’s academic needs and how best to meet them moving forward. 

One element of good news that came out of today’s report is the number of students who took the AzMERIT exam.  Even with the challenges faced by testing students last spring, there was strong participation which provides the data and information educators need.

Helios will continue to partner with others throughout the state to support students and educators and help ensure all students, regardless of zip code, receive a high-quality education.    

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