What an outstanding year it has been for ALA! As an organization, we are constantly striving to improve in all areas and as a part of this commitment, I wanted to take a moment and share with you some of our academic achievements this year:
- Up to this point, the ALA class of 2016 has been awarded over one million dollars in scholarships.
- All 10th grade students were given the opportunity to take the PSAT and based on these results, students can determine their eligibility in important scholarship opportunities such as the National Merit Scholarship.
- We began a district-wide remedial reading and mathematics program which is providing reading and math support to over 300 students.
- In addition to support for struggling students, we began a gifted education program for grades K-12 and over 250 students have been identified as gifted and are currently benefitting from specialized instruction.
- We will be sending five K-8 students to the Pinal County and Maricopa County spelling bees for potential advancement to the state competition and we plan to send over 50 students to the state Science Fair Competition.
- Across all ALA schools, our students outperformed the AzMerit state average in mathematics by 13% and in English language arts by 8%.
As a public charter school, our academic program is measured each year by student performance on the AzMerit assessment. The AzMerit assessment is aligned to the Arizona College and Career Ready standards, and ultimately the results from the assessment are used to inform ourselves and the state on how well we are doing at fulfilling our commitment to academic excellence. While we are excited that our students outperformed the state averages on AzMerit last year, we do not want to stop there. The AzMerit assessment was a more rigorous assessment than AIMS and schools around the state have been working diligently to raise the rigor in their schools in order to meet the higher expectations that have been set. We are excited about the benefit that the new expectations will have for students and we are confident that we will see improved academic performance within ALA based on the hard work and dedication of our teachers, parents and students.
We have received a small number of requests from concerned parents who would like to opt their children out of the AzMerit exam. Last year, 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 for the success of our teachers and our overall academic program to be accurately measured without full student participation on the end-of-year state assessment.
The student performance data that was provided to us after the 2015 administration of AzMerit has allowed us to strengthen our mathematics and English instruction. While we have not changed our curriculum to align with the assessment, the data from the assessment has allowed for us to see which math and English skills our students need additional support with and our teachers have been able to address deficiencies during tutoring and remediation. The bottom line is that the data has proven to be very helpful and ultimately has been a great benefit to the students.
I strongly encourage you to reach out to myself or your campus administrators to discuss any concerns you may have related to the AzMerit exam as I am confident that concerns can be resolved with additional information. To clarify any misconceptions, I have included the AzMerit Frequently Asked Questions which are provided as an addendum to this letter. I am full of anticipation and excitement for the great accomplishments that we will see amongst our students in the next year as we remain committed to providing the best educational experience. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in the pursuit of excellence for every child!
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding AZMerit click here.