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AzMERIT - A Parent Guide to Your Child's Test Results

This past spring, your child took the new statewide test in math and English language arts called AzMERIT.  The test was designed to be a tool for parents, teachers and students to tell us if your child is on track to succeed in his current grade and in the future. You should use your child’s AzMERIT scores along with classroom assignments, homework, grades, and your conversations witPhoto of student on computerh his or her teachers to have a complete picture of how your child is doing.

We hope you’ll find the following information helpful as you review your score reports. Please contact your child’s teachers to talk through the results and how you can work together to help your child succeed.

When are the test results being released?
According to the Arizona Department of Education, initial AzMERIT scores will be sent to districts and charters in October. 

What should you take away from this report?
This AzMERIT score report helps you understand your child’s academic achievement. You can see how your child is performing in comparison to peers in the same grade level, school, and district. In addition to giving you an overall score, the report also breaks down each subject into categories to provide you with a better understanding of how your child performed in different areas of math and English.

Additionally, the report is for new standards with a new assessment.  In prior years, your family had received AIMS results.  This is no longer the case.  The new student assessment is AzMERIT.

How will my child’s score be used?
Scores will be used to better tailor instruction to individual student needs and give us a tool to see how students and schools across the state are doing.

What if my child did well on his or her report card last year, but not as well on this test?
The new tests are only one of several measures that are used to determine your child’s academic performance. Report card grades include multiple sources of information – participation, work habits, group projects, and homework – all of which are important in determining a child’s academic achievement. These sources are not reflected on the test, so there may be some differences. To further explore your child’s academic achievement, talk with his or her teacher.

How long will it be before I can see progress in my child’s score?
As teachers spend more time focusing on the content outlined in the new standards and students gain more practice with the skills, scores are expected to improve over time.  

How will I learn about my student’s scores?
Parents and guardians will receive AzMERIT Family Reports of their student’s performance in November. The report shows the performance of your student along with the averages for your student’s school, district, and the State of Arizona. The report will be accompanied by this guide detailing information about the assessment and the student’s score. Here are sample Math and English Language Arts reports:
Why am I first receiving last year’s score now?
Arizona is working hard to get the scoring right on these new tests; therefore, students are receiving last year’s results this fall. We know it is frustrating for parents and teachers, but in subsequent years, the goal is to have scores available by the end of the school year.

Why does my child’s score look different than scores on previous tests?
Because AzMERIT is a new test, the first year test scores set a new baseline from which progress will be measured. Your child’s score, as well as school and district results, may appear lower this year because the tests measure more complex skills including critical thinking, problem solving, and analysis. A low score does not mean your child did not improve or learned less. It simply means that the expectations have been raised for students and the results provide a more accurate picture of how your child is progressing. These scores cannot be compared to previous test scores since they focus on different skills.

How is the AzMERIT assessment different?
AzMERIT is the first Arizona state assessment that can be administered completely online. At Dysart Unified School District, students and staff have been preparing for success in this new assessment format. In addition, the test question format capitalizes on the use of technology.
AzMERIT logo
What help is available for students who have not reached proficiency on the standards?
Students who are not proficient are provided additional opportunities to learn.  These opportunities may occur before, during or after school.  Teachers work with students in small groups and individually to support them in learning the grade level standards.  Teachers may invite parents to participate in a Response to Intervention (RtI) meeting where instructional experts can offer specialized suggestions for supporting the learning of the child.  Teachers may offer before or after school tutoring.

What resources are available to help my child?
  • Arizona Aims Higher: information about Arizona’s College & Career Ready Standards and AzMERIT, along with tips and resources to help your child succeed in school. 
  • Math Power Book: created by The Rodel Foundation of Arizona, this book was designed for parents and families who want to help their children make sense of math and covers concepts introduced in first grade all the way through sixth grade. 
  • Do Your Homework Arizona: a free tool created by Stand for Children Arizona to help parents better understand homework related to Arizona’s new academic standards in math and English in kindergarten through eighth grade.
  • iPlan - Explore the standards and resources used to deliver instruction in the Dysart Unified School District
  • Important Things Parents Need to Know

How can I use these test results to help my child improve?
You can use the test results to guide a discussion with your child’s teachers about additional supports or challenges that may be needed in class, as well as ways to support your child at home. Your child’s performance is broken down into categories in each subject. Therefore, you can use also this information to locate activities online that were designed specifically for each category at every grade level.

How are the new tests different?
  • They focus on measuring real-world skills. For example, students were asked to read complex passages, analyze them, and write thoughtful responses, which is different from previous tests. This was also the first time a statewide test included a writing section at every grade level.
  • AzMERIT does not lend itself to teaching to the test. By moving away from simple fill in the bubble tests, the temptation to teach to the test was eliminated. The new tests emphasize applying skills over memorization. Strong teaching coupled with engaged learning throughout the year is the best way to prepare for this test. Since the standards ensure students are learning what they need to know, and the new tests are aligned to the standards, schools can now focus on what is most important, instead of test prep.
  • AzMERIT was administered entirely online.  The use of technology in testing is relatively new within the district.  Utilizing more opportunities to use technology will provide students learn the 21st Century learning environment ahead of other testing changes coming to college entrance exams and career aptitude assessments.

What types of questions were on the test?
AzMERIT includes a number of different types of questions, including performance tasks that are multi-step assignments that ask students to apply their knowledge and skills to address real-world problems. In English, students have to apply their research and writing skills, and in math, they solve complex problems and then describe and defend their reasoning. The test also includes traditional multiple choice questions, as well as interactive questions that require students to drag and drop their answers into a box, create equations, and fill in the answer.

How was AzMERIT graded?
Groups of Arizona teachers hand graded the essay questions from AzMERIT and provided recommendations for scoring the entire test. The test vendor graded the multiple choice and short answer questions, but provided all the results to the Arizona Department of Education to calculate. The Arizona State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the final scoring levels.

Where can we get the draft score reports?
Examples of the family score reports and the report guide are available at AzMERITportal.org.

What is Move on When Reading (MOWR)?
“Move On When Reading” is a state law that requires a student not be promoted from third grade to fourth grade if the student is reading at a much lower level than is expected of a third grader. A student’s reading level is determined using the “Reading for Information” and “Reading for Literature” scoring categories of this AzMERIT English language arts assessment. You can find more details about your child’s performance on these two areas on the back of the family score report.

Since AzMERIT test scores from last spring were not available before the beginning of this school year, no third graders were retained based on the MOWR requirement alone. However, if your child did not meet the requirement on last year’s test, there are a variety of services that may be available to provide the necessary support to help your child catch up. Schools and districts will notify parents at the earliest indication that a student is not reading at grade level, so if your child’s score report shows that they did not pass the Move on When Reading requirement you most likely will have already received a letter or other form of communication from the school. If you are worried about your child’s reading ability, you should speak directly with his or her teacher to learn more.

It’s important to note that some students are exempt from the law, including certain English Language Learners, students with individual education plans, students in the process of a special education evaluation, or students diagnosed with a significant reading impairment, including dyslexia.