As you may know, students and teachers at Santan JHS will have their first experience with AzMERIT testing this month, and we wanted to provide you more information about what to expect.
What is AzMERIT?
AzMERIT replaces AIMS as Arizona's statewide testing for reading, writing, and math (8th grade students will still take the AIMS Science assessment). AzMERIT is like an annual checkup - an important opportunity to find out how your child is doing. Just as doctors check height and weight, teachers use the test to check how your child is doing in English and math.
Why the change from AIMS to AzMERIT?
The AzMERIT test was selected because it goes beyond multiple choice questions to provide a better indicator of what students have learned during the school year. AzMERIT is also shorter than AIMS, which means your student will spend less time taking state tests than in previous years. Ultimately, AzMERIT will allow for score reporting by the end of the school year. However, the initial results from this year's test are not expected to be available until fall 2015, with future test results being available much more quickly.
With the new test, parents will know if their child is on track academically or is falling behind. Students will know if they are prepared for the next grade and if they are on track for college and career. They will also have a chance to show their critical-thinking skills by applying concepts and showing deeper understanding of a topic.
Will the scores on AzMERIT look different than they did on AIMS?
The new tests will set a more realistic benchmark for student performance. Because we have a completely new test, scores will look different and may be lower than before; however, this doesn't mean that our students are doing worse. Instead, the scores will provide a more accurate view of how our students are performing. Both students and teachers will need time to adjust to the new assessment. With time and support, we know Santan students will rise to the challenge.
Who will take AzMERIT and AIMS this year?
The AzMERIT assessment will be administered to all students in 3rd through 8th grade. Students in 4th and 8th grade will also take the AIMS Science assessment.
When will the tests be administered, and how long will my child have to take these tests?
AzMERIT & AIMS testing will occur at Santan JHS from April 14-22 (with makeup testing occurring on April 22 and 23). A more detailed schedule is included below. These statewide tests are untimed and your child will be given as much time as needed to complete each portion. However, a specific amount of time is set aside each testing day for all of our students to take each test. These times are listed below for each test section. Please know that these times represent the high end of the estimated completion times given to us by the state, and if your child is not finished during the allotted time, they will be allowed to continue the test in an alternate location.
What will these tests be like?
The writing portion will require students to read a few passages and then write about them. This type of task requires students to think deeper about topics and use evidence to support their thinking.
Students will be taking the writing tests on Tuesday, April 14th.
Students will be given 90 minutes to complete the writing portion.
The reading portion will be administered in two parts over the course of two days. This will ensure students have ample time to read and answer questions. The test also contains editing tasks to measure student understanding of fundamental skills like spelling and grammar.
Students will be taking the reading portions of AzMERIT from Wednesday, April 15th through Thursday, April 16th.
Students will be given 75 minutes per day to complete each part of the reading portion (one part per day).
The math portion will be administered in two parts over the course of two days. This will ensure students have ample time to read and answer questions. The test will ask questions that check a student's conceptual understanding of math, as well as their procedural skills.
Students will be taking the math portions of AzMERIT from Wednesday, April 15th through Thursday, April 16th.
Students will be given 85 minutes per day to complete each part of the math portion (one part per day).
A scientific calculator will be needed for part 1 of the the test on April 15 (but not for part 2 on April 16).
Additionally, students enrolled in the following math courses will take content-specific AzMERIT courses according to the following schedule:
- Algebra 1 - Friday, April 17th (160 minutes)
- Geometry - Monday, April 20th (160 minutes)
- Algebra 2 - Tuesday, April 21st (160 minutes)
Students taking the Algebra 1, Geometry, or Algebra 2 tests will need a graphing calculator on their testing day(s).
Arizona is still using the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test for science.
8th grade students will be taking the AIMS science assessment on Wednesday, April 22nd.
Students will be given 120 minutes to complete the science test.
All AzMERIT and AIMS testing at Santan JHS will be given via paper and pencil. We hope to be able to provide the online test in future years.
How can my child prepare for these tests, and how can we support them at home?
The best way for your child to prepare for the new test is already happening in the classroom all year round with projects, assignments and discussions that teach critical thinking and problem solving skills. However it is important to talk with your child about the new assessment – your conversations can help minimize any fear or anxiety your child may be feeling. Additionally, you can take a practice test with your child at home to become more familiar with the format and types of questions that will be asked.
Please help make sure your child arrives on time and is well-rested during testing days, and avoid scheduling any appointments during our testing dates. On April 15, please make sure your child has a scientific calculator for part 1 of the AzMERIT Math test (if they are taking the Algebra 1 test on April 17, the Geometry test on April 20, or the Algebra 2 test on April 21, please make sure they bring a graphing calculator to school on those days, as well). Your patience, cooperation and flexibility during this testing administration time will be incredibly helpful, as well!
Where can I learn more about AzMERIT and state testing?
Adapted from ArizonaAimsHigher.org.