Amphi board member opts out, bill back

On Tuesday, the Arizona Senate narrowly voted to kill HB2246, which would have permitted parents to opt-out of the statewide AZMerit student assessments. On the same day, Amphi school board member Scott Leska wrote parents to advise them that because it was his “sincere duty to protect” his children, he had opted his children out of AZMerit testing.

Leska said his decision was based on the “terrible vote” to keep Common Core in Arizona. Leska sent a letter to his children’s high school principal advising her of his decision and urged other parents to do the same.

Today, after the senators were swamped with calls by outraged parents, HB2246 is being brought back for consideration.

TUSD Board member Michel Hicks says he supports Leska’s move and hopes district will carefully consider offering the untested test.

On March 17, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas issued a statement saying that she supports allowing each school system’s governing board to vote on whether or not to test this month and April.

According to Douglas, the test has the following problems:

1) The test was meant to be taken online, and yet only 40 percent will be taking the test online, and of those, many are having problems in testing and had to spend money on additional equipment.

2) The test is a departure from the former bubble system, but many districts have not had time to train teachers or students on the new test methodology. As a result, it is likely scores will be much lower due to learning a new test system, and exacerbate the division between districts with more technology and training funding and those with tighter operating budgets;

3) In the second year, testing will show great improvement, not because kids have learned more, but because districts and children have learned how to implement the test itself;

4) The written test, taken by 60 percent, does not fully match up with the online test, so scores will not be wholly comparable; and

5) Both students and teachers will feel the strain of “failing” a test simply because it is new and different.

“I have directed my assessment staff to work with districts that will have the most problems with AzMERIT testing to help ensure that children and staff are not subjected to undue stress,” she said. “When AIMS was first implemented, we had to spend a year going around the state putting out fires. The difference between AIMS and AzMERIT is even greater. Regardless of the quality of the test, rushing into it is bound to create additional problems.”

Related articles:

AZ Senate kills opt-out bill

Douglas favors governing board choice to test, or not to test AZMerit

AZMerit’s “uniquely Arizona” practice tests not so unique after all