Students have the chance to enhance their grades with AzMERIT
September 13, 2018
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AzMERIT and AIMS science are standardized tests used to measure the progress of students across the state of Arizona.This year, Deer Valley Unified School District schools have now added more motivation for students to do well on the assessments.
Before this year, student’s scores did not impact the grades they received in language arts, math or science. Now students who receive a proficient/meets the standard or a highly proficient/exceeds score, can raise their course grade for both semesters. If students do not improve their scores, it will not impact their grade negatively in any way. Kelly Simon, language arts teacher, is one educator who is supportive of this new initiative.
“I think some of the new incentives that the district is coming up with to continue to show the seriousness of AzMERIT is good because it is a test that although is not a graduation requirement, is still a test that needs to be taken seriously so that we have correct information on how our students are doing. And the district’s new incentive as far as moving a grade or changing a grade based on how you perform on the test is a good way to support that,” Simon said.
Teachers are taking a close look at students scores from last year so they can channel their teaching time into helping students with what they are weakest in. Through this, they hope to assist students in improving their scores for the present year.
“I am focusing more on specific standards that my particular students were weak at based on the AzMERIT data. So I’m not teaching towards the test what I’m doing is I am looking at where my students are the weakest and trying to get them better at those specific areas. And if that happens then their scores should go up because then they’re working on where they’re the weakest,” Simon said.
Students are looking at this change as an opportunity to improve their grades in classes where they know the material but have a grade that may not be satisfactory.
“I feel it’s good and bad. It’s good because for people who are right on the border of an A and a B it’s good because it can bump them up. But then for the people who don’t do very well it doesn’t bring them anywhere so it doesn’t bump their grade so it’s either sink or swim,” said Elysia Luna, junior.
With this new source of motivation, students can now see another way standardized testing is worth something to them and to their future. In some cases, it may even change the way students feel about the tests.
“I see a shift from when I first started teaching here and when it was first starting. And that when it first came out because the state [said] it was a pilot program so it wasn’t worth anything. A lot of that same idea kind of for a couple years ‘oh it’s not worth anything’. But now that’s starting to change with some of the freshmen, the sophomores and even some of the juniors seeing that it is worth something,” Simon said.
Some students, even before the change in policy, tried their hardest on the tests and were motivated to do well on it. After this year students, teachers and parents alike will determine how beneficial this new policy is.
“I feel the same towards the state testing but I definitely think it’s improving. So maybe that will change depending on how it goes because this is the first year that they’re doing the bumping right? So depending on how easy that goes maybe my feelings will change for it,” said Mikayla Bridges, sophomore.
Prior to this year, students did not necessarily see how standardized testing could bend to their advantage. With this new grade enhancement policy, students are now rewarded with the chance to make something out of what they learn in class.
“I think it’s important because with AzMERIT we don’t really see a benefit,” Bridges said. “It’s more towards the teachers benefit than ours as students so it’s definitely great to see that reward if you get proficient or highly proficient and I think a lot of students will appreciate that.”