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  Center for the Future of Arizona  

February 2016

Success Feels Good Success Stories

Upcoming School Partners Meetings and Topics

March 2
Leading a Purposeful Community by Measuring, Analyzing and Evaluating Our Effectiveness

May 4
Reflect, Refine, Reach Higher

Sessions begin at 4:30 p.m.
ASU SkySong, 1475 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale

The Back Story on Development of AzMERIT

AzMERIT, measuring how well students have mastered Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, replaced AIMs last spring. Dr. Joe O’Reilly, a renowned national expert on research, evaluation, assessment and accountability, delved into the process of developing the AzMERIT test and outcomes after the first year at the last Beat the Odds training session.

Fifty Beat the Odds principals participated in the session, all of them ranking it very good or excellent. Among the comments, principals said:
  • “Most informative on AzMERIT I have found. Awesome session. Can’t wait to get started with what I know now.”
  • “Extremely useful information; thank you for helping me to understand AzMERIT better so I can help my teachers understand it better.”
  • “The information presented helped me understand how the data was ‘crunched’ and how we can move forward.”
Dr. O’Reilly, executive director of Student Achievement Support from Mesa Public Schools and former president of the National Association of Test Directors, explained how AzMERIT performance levels were set.

The Arizona Department of Education had teachers develop Performance Level Descriptors, detailed descriptions that describe the skills and abilities that students must demonstrate for each performance level. Descriptors include four levels ranging from Minimally Proficient to Highly Proficient.

Teachers reviewed the Performance Level Descriptors, established the cut points and came to a consensus. The State Board of Education accepted the teachers’ recommendations with no changes, and expectations have soared.

As expected in the first year, a majority of Arizona students scored below proficiency standards. O’Reilly provided details on how the new standards are tougher than those measured by AIMs.

According to Expect More Arizona, Arizona’s College and Career Standards are different because they focus on the goal of college and career readiness; put more focus on critical thinking and problem solving; and encourage more analysis and deeper understanding of concepts.

O’Reilly provided an in-depth analysis on understanding the new school and district reports and provided insights on how to use the reports too see what students know and can do. In closing, he shared that he was not surprised by first year results, emphasizing that AzMERIT will lead to higher student achievement in the long run.
And the Winner Is...
  Beat the Odds gold, silver and bronze awards are presented to partner schools that meet rigorous criteria in academic success. Whole school celebrations are being held at gold award-winning schools through the month of February. Look for a complete list of winners in our next newsletter.
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