Testing Changes Could Be Coming To Arizona Education
In order to help Arizona escape a situation with the federal government, education officials are considering a plan to change the state testing program for high school students. The change would last for at least the next two years.
According to a recent report by the Arizona Capitol Times, if the Arizona Department of Education allows schools to choose their own standardized tests for students, upward of $300 million of Arizona’s school funding could be withheld by the federal government.
If the situation is not resolved by the state, Title I funds — federal money set aside to fund programs at schools serving primarily lower-income students — could be at risk, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Arizona State Board of Education officials suggest renewing AZMerit, the current accountability exam, for the next two years, but it will look slightly different than it does currently.
The test is likely to see a shift from assessing students on a course-by-course basis to assessing them based on the knowledge they should have acquired the year they take the test.
Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Acts, or ESSA, states must prove the college-prep menu assessment they want to use over the prescribed statewide assessment aligns with the state’s academic standards, addresses those standards, is as or more rigorous than the existing assessment and produces “valid and reliable” student achievement data, among other feats.
Students will take the updated assessment only one time, throughout their high school career — likely at the end of their freshman or sophomore year, Baden told the board during a special meeting on Monday. They currently take AZMerit exams their freshman through junior years.
“ADE (Arizona Department of Education) has not provided evidence that it has completed any of this work,” the U.S. Department of Education said in a letter sent to the state Department of Education.
The suggested changes would put AZMerit into compliance with ESSA standards, Baden said. And sticking with a statewide standardized test for a couple years would give the board time to iron out a menu of assessments that complies with federal standards, he added.