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AzMERIT Data Highlights Need for Focus on Latino Student Success

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research & Evaluation Analyst

October 20, 2016

The Arizona Department of Education recently released final state results of the AzMERIT (Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching), the statewide achievement test in Mathematics and English Language Arts. Results include scores by grade as well as by demographic categories such as race/ethnicity, gender, and economic status.  

Scores on the AzMERIT increased overall in both English Language Arts and Math from 2015 to 2016, with a higher percentage of students achieving a passing score in 2016 (defined as attaining a score of “proficient” or “highly proficient”).

Furthermore, passing rates for all racial/ethnic groups increased. While this is encouraging news, White students continue to score significantly higher than their Hispanic, African American, and American Indian/Alaskan Native peers. The percentage of these minority students achieving a proficient score also fell below that of the overall state in both domains (38 percent of Arizona students passed the English Language Arts and Math AzMERIT assessments in 2016). These discrepancies are highlighted in the charts below:

Students classified as “economically disadvantaged” achieved passing rates below the overall state as well: 26 percent achieved a passing score in English Language Arts while 27 percent reached proficiency in Math. Thus, the performance of minority and low-income students indicates there is much work to be done in the state of Arizona in closing achievement gaps.

“The data continues to highlight the urgency of closing the achievement gap and, in particular, focusing on Latino Student Success in Arizona,” said Vince Yanez, Vice President of Arizona Student Success Initiatives at Helios Education Foundation.  “As the largest demographic group in our K-12 system, Latino students are our future workforce and we must ensure they are prepared for success in college and career.” 

Helios Education Foundation utilizes data such as AzMERIT scores to inform its strategic partnerships and investments in closing the achievement gap among traditionally underserved students.  Examples of the Foundation’s strategies include convenings around Arizona’s Latino student achievement gap and collaboration in statewide early literacy efforts. Through its work, the Foundation strives to increase the number of individuals in the state of Arizona prepared to succeed in school, college and career.

The AzMERIT is administered to students in grades three through eight in English Language Arts and Math, and high school students take AzMERIT end-of-course assessments in English, Algebra I and II, and Geometry. The test is administered in the spring and serves as a tool to gauge student readiness for grade advancement and preparation to succeed in college and career.

The AzMERIT replaced the statewide AIMS tests and was first administered during the 2014-2015 school year. For more information on AzMERIT scores, click here.

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