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Bill would give Arizona schools a menu of testing choices

A bill in the Arizona Legislature would give state public schools some options when it comes to testing.

House Bill 2180 requires the state board of education to come up with a variety of tests that school districts can choose from to give to students.

“Instead of establishing just one statewide achievement test, there would be a menu of options,” said Sally Stewart, communications director for the Arizona Department of Education.

Stewart said the tests would have to be nationally recognized, something which the AZMerit test isn’t. That test recently replaced the AIMS exam in Arizona schools.

The SAT, PSAT and Advanced Placement exams are examples of tests that schools could offer.

Stewart said that Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas supports the bill.

“Having the schools have the ability to choose the tests validates the local control of school districts in the state of Arizona, and she’s a big supporter of that,” said Stewart.

If the bill becomes law, the tests could be available to schools beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

Stewart said that Douglas will go to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with the authors of the Common Core standards, which have become known in Arizona as the College and Career Ready Standards.

Douglas will also meet with members of Arizona’s congressional delegation. The talks will center on how to give Arizona the flexibility to improve school testing, Stewart said.