Arizona State Board of Education Approves AzMERIT Performance Levels

Author: Helios Education Foundation

August 17, 2015

Recently, the Arizona State Board of Education (ASBE) unanimously approved performance levels for AzMERIT which is Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards assessment. 

The purpose of the AzMERIT assessment is to:

  • Measure a student’s mastery of the Arizona standards and progress towards college and career readiness.
  • Provide valid, reliable and timely data to educators and policymakers to advance the academic success of Arizona students and inform the State’s accountability measures.
  • Communicate results to students, parents, and educators in a clear and timely manner to guide instruction.
  • Provide an accurate perspective of the quality of learning occurring within classrooms and schools.
  • Allow meaningful national and multistate comparisons of school and student achievement.

The ASBE convened national assessment experts as well as Arizona educators from throughout the state to recommend performance standards that measure student progress toward college and career readiness and allow for meaningful national and multistate comparisons of school and academic achievement.

The recommended AzMERIT performance standards will include four categories:  Minimally Proficient, Partially Proficient, Proficient and Highly Proficient.   The performance scores are aligned to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) which is the only nationally representative assessment of student achievement.  

“The alignment of the AzMERIT performance scores to NAEP scores is positive for Arizona students,”  said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation.   “This will allow us to get an accurate assessment of how our students are performing as well as ensure that our classroom instruction is rigorous enough to prepare students for success in college and career.”

According to the ASBE, AzMERIT is intentionally harder than AIMS, as it is aligned to Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards which are more demanding than the standards measured by AIMS. 

“Raising the academic rigor in Arizona classrooms is a critical and necessary step to ensuring our students graduate from high school prepared to enter postsecondary education,” said Luna.  “Not only does it help ensure individual success but it helps to develop a strong workforce that will positively impact Arizona’s economy far into the future.”

However, we know the transition to higher rigor and a more challenging assessment will not be easy.     Students took the AzMERIT exam for the first time last Spring and the initial review indicates that student scores are lower than those of AIMS.   In fact, estimated performance on the Spring 2015 AzMERIT assessment suggests that 44 percent of third graders are minimally proficient in reading and 43 percent of eighth graders are minimally proficient in math. 

“While these numbers are startling – and they should be – it is critical that we have an accurate understanding of how our students are doing academically,” said Luna.  “We must continue to focus on raising the academic rigor in classrooms, providing support for students and ensuring that teachers are equipped with the resources they need.”   

Category: College and Career Readiness

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