Making AZMerit Matter

Making AZMerit Matter

Kelsey Nahodil

AzMerit testing will begin in April, but discussions about the future of the test have already begun.

The discussions have centered around how the tests have a big impact on schools and the districts they reside in, but they have little effect on the students who take them. While schools’ letter grades depend largely on AzMerit scores, students do not have to pass the test to graduate. The question then becomes how do schools across Arizona get students to care about the test and try.

One solution being thrown around in the state legislature is having the test impact students’ grades in school. If students score high on a section of AzMerit, their grades in the corresponding class will be changed up to a letter grade.

Although this is certain to get students to try harder, assistant principal Bill Sorensen is not convinced this is the best idea.

“Even though I think it will bump our scores up and make the kids try harder, I have to believe that people want to do well and not just be forced to try harder,” Sorensen said.

Using AzMerit as an incentive for students’ grades presents certain restraints. It is going to be very difficult to get schools’ Azmerit tests graded because there are so many students who take the tests, and it is going to take so much time and so many people to make it happen. The AzMerit testing does not take place until April, so it would be really difficult to get so many tests graded and into the grade book before the school year is over. The District would have to have a bunch of people come to the school and grade papers for such a long time.

“We would have to invest a significant amount of humans, people spending tons of time looking at grades and entering scores and that seems like a poor return on investment,” Sorensen said.

Even if this idea does not become a reality, Ridge is still taking steps to reward students who do well on the test. The school is giving cords to students who excel and recognizing high performers on AZMerit at assemblies. They do this to try to get students excited about testing, and to try and encourage them to work hard for good scores.

Ridge teachers also met with students whose previous scores and current school grades showed the possibility that they could improve their scores this upcoming April.

“We just had an English aca-prep assembled opportunity where we looked at all the AZMerit scores and looked at the students who where going from partially proficient to proficient and looking for people who under performed,” Doctor Sorensen stated.

The aca-prep was an opportunity for teachers to discuss the importance of the AzMerit test for students and the school. It also helped students realize they could probably do better on the test than they did last year.

Mountain Ridge is doing many things to make the AZMerit tests more meaningful for students. They are hoping that the students will be inspired to work hard when they see how hard work pays off.