AzMerit Frequently Asked Questions

1. When will the AzMerit be administered?

ALA will be administering the 2017 AzMerit assessments for grades 3-11 from March 27-March 31, 2017 with a make-up window from April 3-April 7, 2017.

2. What does AzMerit assess?

AzMerit assesses a student’s proficiency in mathematics and English language arts using the Arizona College and Career standards. AzMerit will begin assessing the newly adopted Arizona English language arts and Mathematics standards in 2019. Learn more about the Arizona College and Career or newly adopted Arizona standards.

3. What makes AzMerit different from AIMS?

AzMerit is a more rigorous assessment than AIMS based upon the ways in which a student is asked to demonstrate their understanding. Instead of relying strictly on recall as seen on the AIMS assessment, the AzMerit contains questions that require students to perform within higher levels of thinking. As a means of comparison, here is the way in which a student was presented with a question on the 7th grade math AIMS assessment versus the 7th grade math AzMerit assessment:

 

azmerit example

 

If you would like to view additional AzMerit sample questions, please visit AzMerit Portal: Sample Tests azmeritportal.org/sample-tests

4. Can my child opt-out of AzMerit?

In 2015 the Arizona House of Representatives passed HB2246, a piece of legislation that would have allowed parents to opt out of testing. The Senate, however, rejected the bill and therefore we remain under the guidelines outlined by Arizona Revised Statute and the Attorney General’s legal opinion. Not only must we act in accordance with the law, but it is difficult to accurately measure the success of our teachers, curriculum, and school without full student participation on the end-of-year assessment. Beginning in Spring 2017, student scores will be used as part of the determination for each school’s A-F letter grade

5. Will my child’s absences be excused if they are absent during the testing window?

Some parents have informed us that they intend to keep their children at home during the testing window. We remind parents that choose to do so that we are still bound by our absence and enrollment policies and state law, which do not recognize assessment opt-out as an excusable absence.

6. Can my child be provided make-up work if they are absent during the testing window?

As a school, we believe that parents should be able to make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of their children. While we believe that the data that is gathered through the AzMerit assessment allows for ALA to make more informed educational decisions for each individual child, we want to work with each family to minimize the disruption to their child’s learning should they be absent during the testing window. Campus administrators will work with individual families to provide make-up work as necessary.

7. How is the data used that is collected from AzMerit?

Beginning in 2017, the Arizona Department of Education will resume the publication of A-F letter grades for all school districts, schools, and charter schools based on the Conceptual Design for the A-F School Accountability System adopted in September 2016. AzMerit data combined with graduation rates, post secondary enrollment and other indicators will provide the A-F letter grade. Learn more information about the A-F School Accountability Ad Hoc Advisory Committee.

azsbe.az.gov/resources/f-school-letter-grade-accountability

8. What sort of data is provided to schools based on the AzMerit?

The AzMerit data that has been provided to schools is based on Spring administration and is identical to the data provided for AIMS as the goals of the assessments are the same. The goal of both assessments was and is to measure a child’s math and English proficiency.

9. Were the Arizona College and Career Ready standards mandated by the federal government?

No, the Arizona College and Career Ready standards are based off of the Common Core standards which were created in 2009 by state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, through their membership in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers. States were given the autonomy to adopt or create their own standards.

Arizona continues to monitor, research and update the standards. In December 2016, Arizona adopted updated English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards. Science and History standards are currently undergoing updates with expected release in 2018. For a summary of standards changes, review schedule, and feedback of standards, please visit azed.gov/standards-practices

10. Has ALA had to change their curriculum to prepare for the AzMerit assessment?

No, we continue to prescribe to the Core Knowledge Sequence and Saxon that ALA adopted in 2009 upon opening its doors. Since the adoption of the Arizona College and Career Ready standards, our teachers have increased the frequency of higher level questioning into their instructional delivery. Additionally, ALA has provided supplementary resources to support students success with the new testing format.

11. Has ALA had to increase the amount of time dedicated to assessments to prepare for AzMerit?

No, the amount of time that is spent assessing student progress throughout the school year is the same amount of time that was spent when preparing students for the AIMS assessment.

As a parent, I am always cognizant of the content that my children are exposed to. Many parents and students have expressed concern about the content of the Common Core standards and AzMerit tests. In order to address this concern, I registered to take part in an AzMerit selection committee. This committee gave me the opportunity to review content that will be used in future years. Did you know that ALL passages used on the AzMerit have been tested through parents, teachers, administrators and community members? Each passage must also be free of bias or stereotypes. Selections will not include religious implications, political viewpoints, cultural biases, vulgar or violent content, etc. As a parent and educator, I am confident that the content my children will see on the AzMerit tests will be appropriate according to my personal and professional standards.

Laura Richins

ALA Mother and Curriculum Specialist