Arizona chooses AIMS replacement
Students are sitting down to the standardized test replacing AIMS come spring, called Arizona's Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching.
AzMERIT will assess public school students grades 3 through high school in English language arts and mathematics, the Arizona Department of Education announced Monday.
Expect More Arizona's President & CEO Pearl Chang Esau said regardless of the political controversy surrounding the new assessment, to go back at this point would cause chaos in the system and be incredibly frustrating for teachers.
"In many schools, the standards have been implemented going on five years," she said. "A lot of our schools have fully integrated them, and they're seeing a lot of success."
Third through eighth graders will take tests at their grade level, while high schoolers are evaluated at the end of each course.
The AIMS science test is still going to be in use for high schoolers, as well as fourth and eighth graders, said Clarkdale-Jerome School Superintendent Kathleen Fleenor.
"Perhaps next year they will bring in other academic areas," she said. "I believe the intention would be to make all that so that it's uniform."
Arizona was a testing ground for the PARCC test last year, but Fleenor said AzMERIT is more in line with Florida, Utah and other Smart Balance Assessment states.
"At least with these assessments we'll be able to see how our students are doing in Arizona as well as compared to students in other states," she said. "I want to see our kids compared to others in the nation."
Districts will have more flexibility in how the tests are administered, whether online or in paper and pencil.
"This test, I believe, requires lower bandwidth," she said. "During the PARCC trial last year, some districts' systems were crashing because it required such a large amount of bandwidth."
How the state will pay the $19-million price tag is still up in the air, Fleenor said, along with a variety of other issues.
"It seems like this will be easier to implement," Fleenor said. "We'll see."
Aside from the actual assessment being used, Mingus Union High School Superintendent Paul Tighe said this decision won't change much about what's been taught in classrooms.
"We'll learn more about the test and see what we need to do for administering it," he said. "It's not going to necessarily change instruction because we're already teaching to the college and career readiness standards."
It's still unclear how AzMERIT will fit into the ADE's annual performance letter grades A-F.
Students graduating high school after December 31, 2016 will not have to pass AIMS.
Find out more about the new assessment at azed.gov/AzMERIT.