AzMerit scores only one tool for Dysart curriculum

In September The Arizona Department of Education released the final results for the AzMERIT assessment of the 2015-16 school year.

The Dysart Unified School District suffered a bit in comparison to peer large school districts in the Valley, though its overall scores were within the same ballpark. In some respects, its difficult to quantify scores so early in what is a smaller state-run testing apparatus with many moving parts.

In 2014, The Arizona State Board of Education adopted the AzMERIT testing instrument to replace AIMS. Testing began late in the 2014-15 school year and continued last year.

Dysart students passed the English language arts portion at a 35 percent clip, while 34 percent passed the math portion, according to final numbers from the Arizona Department of Education.

Dysart Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick stated in an email that one piece of data alone will not provide the comprehensive information needed to drive decisions on either an individual student level or for the educational organization. She said Multiple measures including other formative and summative assessments, graduation rates, attendance, student engagement, and other research based indicators should be utilized.

“The AzMerit test, like any standardized test does provide summative information in the areas of ELA and math learning. Having data to utilize to drive curricular, instructional and financial decisions is critical and AZMerit data is one source,” Dr. Pletnick’s statement read in part. “Additionally, there are concerns with assessment alignment when a one test is utilized as the major determiner of student or school success. When standards are revised, and that is absolutely essential if we want those standards to be relevant, then the assessment to test those standards need to be revised. The question must then be how comparable the results are between the original and revised assessments. This is one more reason why we need to develop a system of multiple measures and a dash board reporting system to allow for transparent information reporting. Utilizing one assessment and slicing and dicing it multiple ways (i.e., proficiency, growth, bottom 25 percent, etc.) distorts the picture of how the individual student is doing and how the educational institution is doing. It limits the information parents and stakeholders have related to student success.”

This is a report of the combined student performance results from the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters.

In the Peoria Unified School District, 39 percent passed the English Language Arts portion of the test and 44 percent passed the math portion. The Deer Valley Unified School District had 50 percent of students pass ELA while 48 percent passed math. The Agua Fria Unified School District posted similar scores, 32 percent passing ELA and 35 percent in math.

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