AzMERIT low scores may help students long-term

The release of individual school, district and county AzMERIT scores on Nov. 30 confirmed that Arizona’s students do not meet state and national educational standards.

“The spring 2015 test does reflect five years of work on alignment and at some point you just have to get a benchmark,” said Rebecca Gau, executive director of STAND for Children Arizona.

Less than half of Arizona’s students did not pass the inaugural test, but educators and advocates believe it’s a step in the right direction.

“I was really proud of our school,” said Dr. Michelle Otstot, principal of Copper Ridge School in Scottsdale. “We went in knowing it was the first year, it was just a baseline years so whatever scores came out great.”

For months individual districts and the Arizona Department of Education have warned parents that the passing rate was low. The students at Copper Ridge managed to score at or above the state average for almost every grade level and Otstot said these scores are a start.

“For parents and for everyone really these scores were a wake up call,” said Charles Tack, the deputy public information officer for the Arizona Department of Education. “We want to use this as a starting point and if you’re a parent you want to look at your students results and say ‘Where is my student maybe struggling a little bit? Where do they need a little extra support,’” Tack said.

Otstot said when she received the scores she met with her staff to create a plan to help bring their students in line with state standards. AzMERIT is designed to be taken online and Otstot said many of her students struggled with typing. Her plan also includes focusing curriculum on preparing students for the test and changing the time frame in which it is administered.

The collective goal for next year is to bring these students up to standard by using this benchmark as a way to teach the students the curriculum in which they are struggling.