Spring testing signals the close of the school year and can be a stressful time for all involved—students, parents, teacher, and school administrators and staff. During the week of March 28, students, from grade 3 up, across the state of Arizona will be taking the AzMERIT test; 4th and 8th graders will also be taking the AIMS Science Test.
While AzMERIT, or Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching, is designed to give a better way to gauge students’ understanding of grade-level appropriate material, and whether or not they are on track for success in the next grade and, eventually, college. This test is no longer required for high school graduation.
It goes beyond the types of bubble-filling standardized tests parent may remember and attempts to gauge a child’s critical-thinking and problem-solving skills (both of which will be needed in his/her future education and adult life). This test seeks to measure just what a student’s learning throughout the school year and ranks him/her based not on the percentage of questions answered correctly, but on the basis of what a student should know and understand at their grade level.
For more detailed information, Arizona Aims Higher has compiled grade-by-grade Parent Guides to help you better understand what key topics your child should be covering in each grade, as well as other useful resources, including an AzMERIT Fact Sheet.
During the School Year
There are a lot of ways parents can help their child prepare for the AzMERIT test throughout the year.
- Talk to the Teacher: Your child’s teacher is an amazing resource not only about what he should be learning during the school year, but also on ways you can help reinforce what he is learning in class at any given time.
- Talk to Your Child: This test focuses on critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in the areas of reading, writing, and math. Active questions can help reinforce these skills, including having a child explain the process of how she reached a solution on a math problem, explain something she has written, or asking her about the central idea or theme of what she is reading can help them develop and hone these skills.
- Practice Makes Perfect: The Arizona Department of Education hosts a site dedicated to the AzMERIT here, parents can find useful resources, including sample tests.
- Be Aware: Keep track of test days and avoid scheduling trips, appointments, or other activities that might interfere with testing.
During Test Week
The week of the test can be really amp up the stress levels all around, but it is important to try to minimize that effect as much as possible. Here are some suggestions that can help with that:
- Sleep Well: Sleep is important for everyone every night, but it becomes a priority during test time. A good night’s sleep recharges the brain, helps her be alert, calm, and relaxed—all of which can help her be at her personal best.
- Eat Well: As the old adage goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and research has shown it can affect academic performance. Choosing nutritious options that are sources of healthy energy, like proteins, whole grains, and fruit, will help your child stay focused, while sugary options can leave your student feeling tired and hungry a few hours after eating.
- Don’t Worry: When you are stressed your child can sense it and pick up on those feelings, so try to keep your stress levels as low as possible. Also try to equalize encouragement of doing his best with sincere reminders that you will support him regardless of his performance.
- Be Happy: Sending your child to school with a positive outlook and telling her she has the needed skills can make a bigger difference than you might imagine. Remind him to relax and pace himself, as well.
Spring testing is important but it doesn’t have to take a huge toll on you or your child. Relax, encourage them to do their best, and help them prepare as best they can for the tests.
AzMERIT Portal – The state’s testing portal, which includes resources and sample tests, as well as general testing information.
ADE’s AzMERIT – The Department of Education’s website on the state test.
AzMERIT Writing Rubrics & Guides – Cave Creek Unified School District has a testing page with some helpful resources to that can clarify the evaluation of the writing portion of the test.
Expect More Arizona – Education advocates championing “a world-class education … for every child,” their site includes a wealth of resources and tips for the AzMERIT test.
Understanding AzMERIT for Parents – This explanatory video made by Mesa Public Schools contains useful information for parents.
Understanding AzMERIT for Community – This explanatory video made by Mesa Public Schools contains useful information for the community at-large.