AzMERIT is a new test for Arizona students given for the first time in May 2015. Assessments like AzMERIT can be one tool used to measure if a student is on track to succeed in the next grade level and in the future (college and career readiness).
The AzMERIT is based on the new learning standards which are much more challenging and rigorous than those that students and teachers worked with in the past when they took the AIMS test.
Because the new test measures students’ learning based on these new standards, it is also much more challenging and rigorous than the AIMS. The format of the test is different. In the past, for example, a student read a single reading selection and then answered multiple-choice questions about that selection. An English Language Arts (ELA) sample 8th grade test question for AzMERIT, though, had students read two more lengthy reading selections and watch a short video on the same topic; then the student answered questions about the readings and the video and was asked to select passages from the readings or video to support the answers. About 2/3 of the students in Amphi also took this test for the first time on a computer; this was a new testing experience that required students to use technology tools to highlight answers, drag-and-drop information, and use keyboarding skills for their written answers. In both the English Language Arts and the Math portions of the AzMERIT, students were required to demonstrate their critical thinking and problem solving skills by explaining their answers.
In the past, the AIMS tests were given to high school students in 10th grade, with four additional testing times, if needed, to pass the test which covered content in reading, writing, and math at the 10th grade level. AIMS was a “high stakes” test, and passing it was required to graduate from high school. Currently, the AzMERIT tests in high school were given to students taking English 9, 10, and 11 as well as those enrolled in Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II as end of course (EOC) tests. AzMERIT is not currently considered a “high stakes” test for high school students.
In addition to the standards and the assessment both being more rigorous and challenging, the number of questions a student must answer correctly to determine if he/she was “highly proficient,” “proficient,” “partially proficient, or “minimally proficient” (the new student labels replacing “exceeds,” “meets,” “approaches,” and “falls far below” which were used on the AIMS tests) has been set at a higher level than those used to measure student achievement on the AIMS tests.
- The AzMERIT is not the same test as the AIMS and scores should not be compared.
- The new standards are more rigorous than the old standards.
- AzMERIT is more difficult and requires students to do more than answer a multiple-choice question. They have to demonstrate their thinking and problem solving skills. In the ELA portion, they have to defend their answers by citing examples from the text. If they took the computer-based version, they also had to utilize technology skills, including keyboarding.
- The number of correct answers required to “pass” AzMERIT (i.e., receiving either a “proficient” or “highly proficient” label) has been raised.
For more information, please contact the State Assessment and Data Analysis department.