AzMERIT: What is Improved Slightly? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!


The AZCentral published an article on October 7th, 2019 regarding AzMERIT scores. It announced  “slight improvement on the AzMERIT scores.”1 The AzMERIT is an annual statewide test that measures how students are performing in English language arts and math.  Standardized testing provides the student’s families with an idea of how their children are doing as compared to students across the national landscape as well as locally.

Surprisingly, but not really so, a few paragraphs into the article it is noted students continued to decline!  Did your school make the grade? Is your child one the declining bracket?

It is up to the school districts to “openly address” the results in a media-dominated manner to the parents as well the taxpaying citizen base. Sharing and explaining their school’s results. Not just in a Governing Board limited meeting and not the general public.

Bonds and overrides will be hotly contested subjects for voters along with property tax impact. School performance, as well as letter grades, have a bearing on decision-makers.

The article explains that students are “incentivized to perform well” for AzMERIT with pizza parties, T-shirts and grade inflation.  Now the question is, why would a student be provided extrinsic rewards to performance? Doesn’t this undermine memory retention and long term learning?

Standardized testing has established standards or instructional framework. They provide teachers with a level of guidance for what and when something needs to be taught. Without this structure a third grade teacher and a sixth grade teacher could be teaching the same content.

This guidance also keeps students who move from one school district to another from being behind or ahead of their new school. Standardized testing measures the students learned knowledge, then becomes the report card of the teachers and schools. The greatest benefit of standardized testing is a means to monitor the students, teachers and schools and the learning process working.

1Arizona Central article:

Catherine Barrett is an Arizona Governor’s Master Teacher and currently Chair of citizens initiative petition, A Classroom Code of Ethics For Public Schools K-12. You can find her on Twitter @ReadersLeadPD, and on Facebook at Yes4Ethics.

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About Catherine A. Barrett 11 Articles
Catherine Barrett is an Arizona educator and chair of the Classroom Code of Ethics organization.