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The Arizona Department of Education Releases Preliminary Statewide AzMERIT Assessment Results

Author: Helios Education Foundation

July 7, 2016

The Arizona Department of Education recently released preliminary state results of the AzMERIT (Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching), the statewide achievement test in math and English Language Arts. Compared to 2015 results, proficiency levels increased across most grades in both math and English Language Arts. At the same time, less than half of students across all grades achieved a passing score (i.e., proficient level or higher) in either subject area, highlighting a need for much work to be done in the state to ensure Arizona students are prepared for success in college and career.

As shown in the tables below, Arizona third grade English Language Arts proficiency rates remained stagnant with 59 percent falling into minimally or partially proficient categories. In eighth grade, passing rates in both ELA and math declined from the previous year with a sobering 74 percent failing to meet proficiency standards in math in 2016. However, it should be noted that high-achieving eighth graders enrolled in high-school-level courses (e.g., Algebra I) were not required to take the eighth grade assessment this year. This was a change from the previous year, thus resulting in a larger drop in proficiency across the two years. On a positive note, fifth-graders achieved the largest percent gain in English Language Arts proficiency from 32 to 45 percent – an increase of 13 percent. 

“The AzMERIT data provides valuable data about how Arizona students are performing.  While the results are not where we want or need them to be, it is important that we are honest about how students are doing so that we can develop strategies to help improve performance”, said Dr. Paul Perrault, Vice President and Director of Research and Evaluation at Helios Education Foundation.

To bolster Arizona student proficiency across subject areas and increase college and career readiness, Helios Education Foundation seeks out and creates opportunities to strategically invest and build and reform systems across the state.  In its strategic investments, Helios prioritizes a focus on academic preparedness, rigorous and aligned standards and assessments, student academic supports, and enhancement of the skill and expertise of teachers, counselors, and leaders.

In its efforts to build and reform systems, Helios strives to identify and remove barriers to educational equity, access, and success across the educational continuum. The Foundation promotes P-12 and postsecondary system alignment in which a high-expectations, college-going culture permeates both educational systems and communities. Furthermore, Helios believes in the value of actively engaging all partners, including families, schools and communities, in the academic success of Arizona students.

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. While only state-level data have been released at this time, more detailed district and pubic and charter school information will be available in August. 

For more information on the AzMERIT, click here.

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