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Diane Douglas: AzMERIT not reflective of students’ overall performance

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — The majority of students failed the state’s AzMERIT test last year, but the Arizona schools chief doesn’t want parents to feel discouraged.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said the statewide test only shows “a one-day snapshot” of how students perform in school. She said the test does not reflect the full picture of what’s really going on inside classrooms.

“It should not be the measure of our teachers, or our schools or our districts,” she said.

Only 41 percent of Arizona students passed the math and reading portions of the test during the last school year, according to the latest results. White and Asian students performed at higher rates than Latino, black, and Native American students on both math and reading.

Fifty-five percent of white students and 73 percent of Asian students passed the math portion.

In comparison, 31 percent of Latino students, 26 percent of black students and 21 percent of Native American students got passing scores in math.

When it comes to reading, 55 percent of white students and 68 percent of Asian students received passing scores. Thirty percent of Latino students, 28 percent of black students and 18 percent of Native American students passed.

The AzMERIT test is used to determine the letter-grade a school gets each year, and it also plays a role in how much funding schools receive from the state each year.

Douglas said the test is also meant to measure the academic achievement of students and to determine the quality of teachers, schools and districts.

“But the test has not been validated for any of those uses,” she said.

She noted change is coming, given the Arizona State Board of Education has decided not to continue with the AzMERIT test after this school year is over. As a result, a new statewide test for students will become available next school year.

“It hopefully will bring some better accountability for our system overall,” Douglas said.

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