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2018 Assessment Windows - AzMERIT and AIMS Science

From March 26 through April 27, 2018, students in grades 3-12 will be taking state assessments, AzMERIT (for math, language arts, and writing) and AIMS (for science). Please check with your child's teacher for exact testing dates for your child.

The testing windows are as follows:

AIMS Science

When: March 26 - April 20 (TUSD plans to test students from March 26-29)
Who: Students in grades 4, 8, and 9 or 10 (The assessment is generally taken in grade 9 but can be also taken in grade 10)
How: Grades 4 and 8: Two test sessions approximately 45-60 minutes each. Grades 9 or 10: One test session for approximately two hours

AzMERIT Math and ELA (English Language Arts)

When: April 2 – 27
Who: Students in grades 3 – 12
How: Math has two parts, approximately 60-85 minutes each. ELA also has two parts, approximately for 45-75 minutes each.

AzMERIT Writing

When: April 2 – 13
Who: Students in grades 3 – 12
How: ELA writing has one part of approximately 45-90 minutes

Assessment Information for Parents

Since 2015, the Arizona Department of Education has been using the AzMERIT exam as the standard assessments for students in Arizona public schools. Students in third grade through high school take the assessment in English language arts (ELA), math,  science and writing.

This year's testing window, which is set by the state, begins March 26, 2018. At TUSD, we plan to have all testing completed by April 27, 2018. Check with your children's teachers for specifics.

Please keep in mind that teachers have multiple ways they measure student learning. AzMERIT is just one of those tools. Throughout the school year, teachers use many assessments to determine how students are doing in their classrooms, including classwork, homework, quizzes, projects, and teacher and counselor observations. The results from AzMERIT are used along with all of this information to ensure each child is on track to succeed.

Arizona is asking more from our students so they can achieve their full potential. The AzMERIT test measures a wide range of real-world skills, like critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis. For high school students, this exam is NOT required for graduation. It provides an accurate tool to measure how well your child is mastering the skills expected of young people in higher education and as they begin their careers.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What are AzMERIT and AIMS?
Arizona's Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching (AzMERIT) is an annual statewide assessment that measures how students are performing in English language arts (ELA), math and writing. AIMS is the assessment that is used for science. Assessments can be effective tools to support your child's learning. They can tell you and your child's teacher if your child is on track to succeed or if he/she needs to spend additional time learning a topic.

Who takes AzMERIT and AIMS?
Students in 3rd through 12th grade will take AzMERIT in English language arts (ELA), math, and writing. Students in grades 4, 8, and 9 or 10 will take AIMS in science.

What if my child is absent during the testing?
Each school will have makeup days. Please avoid making doctor, dental or other such appointments on testing days, and do not pull your children out of class unless it is an emergency. Once a test is started, the child must finish or risk having to leave sections blank.

How are AzMERIT and AIMS assessments graded?
All of the test items are reviewed and approved by Arizona educators. That review includes confirming the answer key for items and any scoring rubrics. Items that require hand scoring are scored by trained scorers using the appropriate scoring rubric.

Where can we get the draft score reports?
Examples of the family score reports and the report guide are available at AzMERITportal.org.

When are the test results being released?
School districts generally receive copies of each student's family score report in July, and we plan for the individual reports to be ready for parents to pick up before the start of the school year.

What is Move on When Reading (MOWR)?
"Move On When Reading" is a state law that says a student may not be promoted from third grade to fourth grade if the student is reading at a much lower level than is expected of a third grader. A student's reading level is determined using the "Reading for Information" and "Reading for Literature" scoring categories of the AzMERIT English language arts assessment. More details about a student's performance on these two areas can be found on the back of the family score report.

Schools and districts will notify parents at the earliest indication that a student is not reading at grade level. Therefore, if your child's score report shows that he or she did not pass the Move on When Reading requirement, you most likely will have already received a letter or other form of communication from the school. If you are worried about your child's reading ability, you should speak directly with his or her teacher to learn more.

Most schools and districts included a message for parents on end-of-year report cards of third grade students explaining that promotion to fourth grade is dependent upon the student's final AzMERIT reading scores. Parents with students identified as not meeting the MOWR requirement will be notified this summer, after districts and schools review their students' raw scores. 

If your child did not meet the requirement on last year's test, there are a variety of services that may be available to provide the necessary support to help your child catch up.

It's important to note that some students are exempt from the law, including certain English Language Learners, students with individual education plans, students in the process of a special education evaluation, or students diagnosed with a significant reading impairment, including dyslexia.

How do assessments help students succeed?
Standardized assessments are like annual checkups—opportunities to find out how your child is doing. Just as doctors check height and weight, teachers use the assessments to check how your child is performing in subjects. The information from these tests will provide the constant, objective measure you can track over the course of your child's education.

What does AzMERIT mean for students? 
AzMERIT goes beyond multiple choice questions to provide a better indicator of what students have learned during the school year. Students will have a chance to show their critical-thinking skills by applying concepts and showing deeper understanding of a topic.

Will my high school student need to pass AzMERIT to graduate? 
Students are NOT required to pass the assessment for graduation. Beginning with the class of 2017, all students need to pass a civics test for graduation.

What are the benefits of these assessments? 
The assessment results provide teachers, parents and students with valuable information about how students  are doing and if they are prepared for the next grade and eventually for college and career. Students should use the test as an opportunity to check on their progress without the anxiety of needing to pass to graduate.

What will scores look like? 
Scores on the AzMERIT parent score reports will show performance levels. There are four performance levels that describe the general skills and abilities for students who take the AzMERIT. Students who score in the "Proficient" or "Highly Proficient" range are likely to be ready for the next grade or course. Students who score in the "Partially Proficient" or "Minimally Proficient" range are likely to need support to be ready for the next grade or course. Each test has three or more scoring categories that describe the content in different parts of the test, which will be shown on the back of the family score report. There is a short paragraph that will describe the student's understanding of the content in this scoring category based on his or her ability level.

What if my child is not a good test taker? 
Your child's school and teacher can provide suggestions for helping your child successfully know and demonstrate his or her understanding of the state standards, which is what the AzMERIT test is based on. Throughout the school year, there are many ways teachers assess how students are doing in their classroom, including classwork, homework, quizzes, projects, and teacher and counselor observations about your child's growth. The results from AzMERIT should be used along with all of this information to ensure your child is on track to succeed.

How can I help prepare my child for these assessments?
At the beginning of the school year or semester, set shared goals with your child's teacher for what your child needs to know and be able to do during this school year. Check in regularly on your child's progress to see where your child might need help.

Talk with your child about the test—your conversations can help minimize any fear or anxiety your child may feel when taking the test this spring. You can also take a practice AzMERIT test at home to help your child prepare. There is no need to create a login, just simply sign in as a guest at azmeritportal.org.

Top 8 Tips for Helping Your Child Prepare for Assessments

Spring has arrived, which means we're already nearing the end of another school year in Arizona. It's time to measure what students have learned and if they are on track and prepared for the next step in their education.

Think of the annual assessments as an academic checkup. Just as you would want your doctor to share an honest assessment of your child's health, these assessments will give you the most accurate information about your child's academic ability.

We know that taking tests can be stressful and students can experience a range of emotions from panic to apathy. It is important your child is mentally and physically prepared and there are simple ways to alleviate anxiety and stress.

  1. Talk to Your Child's Teacher
    Teachers are an excellence resource for details about the skills your child has been working on this school year and what support you can give your child at home to help him prepare for the test.
  2. Reinforce Critical Thinking Skills
    Your child has been preparing for the new test since the school year began. All of the projects, assignments and discussions have reinforced critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, you can reinforce those skills at home by reading with your child and asking her to talk about the central idea or theme of book or article. Ask her to explain something she has written. Have her explain the steps she took to solve a math problem.
  3. Practice At Home
    You can support your child by learning about the skills being assessed on the test, as well as what sample questions might look like and talking with him about it. If your child will be taking the test on a computer, it would useful to go through some sample questions so he is familiar with the platform. You can also take a practice AzMERIT test at home to help your child prepare. There is no need to create a login, just simply sign in as a guest at azmeritportal.org.
  4. Keep Track of Test Days
    If you know when the tests are coming, you can make sure other activities are kept to a minimum. Ensure school takes priority over practices, appointments and trips.
  5. Serve a Healthy Breakfast or Have Your Child Eat a Healthy School Breakfast
    Research has shown the impact eating breakfast has on academic performance. Focus on foods that are healthy and a source of energy, like eggs and whole grain toast, or oatmeal packed with fruit and nuts. Less healthy choices such as donuts and sugary drinks can leave your student feeling tired and hungry just an hour or two later. A nutritious breakfast will help your child stay focused and alert.
  6. Safeguard Sleep
    Make sure your student gets enough sleep the night before exams and in the days leading up to tests. Enforce a "tech curfew" — no phones, tablets, video games or TV for 30 minutes prior to bedtime. This will help your child wind down and prepare to get a good night's rest.
  7. Don't Stress
    Your stress can carry over to your student. By keeping your own stress levels down, you can help your child succeed. Try to emphasize to your child that she doesn't have to be perfect, and that you'll support her no matter what.
  8. Stay Positive
    Your child can be influenced by your reaction to testing time. Give him a positive send-off in the morning and tell him he has the needed skills, he just needs to relax and pace himself. Remember, AzMERIT and other standardized tests are not the finish line. They simply serve as check points along every child's educational journey. Testing results should be used to determine areas of strength and weakness so students can monitor and adjust. Set goals for any skills that need work and celebrate when your child reaches each goal.

To learn more about the test and what your child needs to know to be successful, visit ArizonaAimsHigher.org/AzMERIT.

Video - Information Session

Video - Sample Questions

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