Recent AzMERIT Scores Show Incremental, Positive Gains

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst

September 11, 2017

The Arizona Department of Education recently released preliminary state results of the 2017 AzMERIT (Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching), the statewide achievement test in math and English Language Arts (ELA). The AzMERIT exam is a higher rigor exam that is tied to the College and Career Ready Standards that Arizona educators are implementing throughout the state.  The exam also features more open-ended questions to help students demonstrate their critical thinking skills and abilities and is a critical indicator of how our students are performing academically.

Overall, statewide proficiency in these subjects continue to show positive, incremental gains since the test was first administered in 2015. For example, the percent of students meeting proficiency statewide in math and ELA increased by five percentage points in both subjects over the three testing years.

While Latino students continue to lag behind the state average in ELA and math proficiency, they have also experienced small, steady gains. The percentage of Latino students meeting proficiency statewide in math and ELA increased by four percentage points over the three years:

“The AzMERIT scores underscore that we must continue to focus on increasing the proficiency of all of our students,” said Vince Yanez, Senior Vice President, Arizona Community Engagement for Helios Education Foundation.  “We are encouraged to see some incremental growth in the proficiency of Latino students, but we still have significant work to do to close the gap.  With Latino students making up the largest percentage of our K-12 population, it is critical that we have a laser focus on closing the achievement gap to ensure a strong future for Arizona.” 

Another area that Helios monitors closely is third-grade reading rates.  In 3rd grade English Language Arts, 44% of students achieved proficiency, four points higher than in the test’s 2015 inaugural year. Proficiency in third grade reading is highly predictive of success in later grades as well as high school graduation and postsecondary education.

“We’re pleased to see that we are on the right track toward increasing the number of Arizona third graders reading at proficiency” said Karen Ortiz, Ph.D. “At the same time, it is unacceptable that less than half of our third graders are ready to read at grade level by the end of third grade.  As a member of the State Board of Education's K-3 Literacy Ad Hoc Committee, we were able to take a strong step forward this year with the passage of SB 1131, which amended specific statutes related to Move On When Reading, to provide more supports for students so that we can continue to increase 3rd grade literacy.  Yet, there is more that needs to be done.”

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