By Christie Silverstein
Spring has arrived, which means we’re already nearing the end of another school year in Arizona. It’s time again to find out what students have learned and whether they are on track and prepared for the next step in their education. A measurement of student proficiency in math and English language arts, AzMERIT provides valuable insight for parents and educators by detailing how their students, schools and districts are faring academically.
The testing period can be an anxious time for both students and parents, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ways to ensure that the annual test doesn’t put undue stress on you or your children.
- Be prepared. You can practice at home and encourage critical thinking skills, which are an important part of the test. Ask your child to explain how they solved a math problem, or about a recent book they read and what they think about it. For more specific ideas, talk to your child’s teacher about what they are learning and how you can reinforce those skills. Find out whether your child will be testing on a computer – if they are it can be beneficial to spend some time with sample questions provided by the Arizona Department of Education. It’s also helpful to ensure you know which days the test will be given so that you can talk things through with your child and let them know what to expect.
- Create healthy habits. Sleep, diet and physical activity can all play a role in academic performance. Obviously, young kids need more sleep than adults. Leading up to and during the testing timeframe, make sure they get to bed at an appropriate time and that they have a “tech curfew” – no phones, tablets, video games, or TV for 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Ensure that your student gets a high protein, low sugar breakfast, such as eggs and whole grain toast or oatmeal with fruit and nuts on test days. Leave the sugary options, such as some breakfast cereals, for the weekend. What’s more, healthy, active kids are proven to perform better academically. Don’t spend so much time studying that they don’t get time to move!
- Keep things in perspective. AzMERIT is just one test over the course of the school year. It can provide information on where your child can improve, but it can’t measure other important skills, such as how they interact with others, flexibility, responsibility and more. If you’re concerned about test results, be sure to consider them in the broader context of your child’s grades, individual growth and feedback from their teacher.
- Stay positive. If you’re stressed, your child will be, too. Share positive and supportive thoughts, and reinforce that this is just one test and a checkpoint along their educational journey. The test results might reveal areas of strengths and areas that may need more focus, but they won’t determine anyone’s fate.
Schools will receive students’ scores by the end of May. Parent report cards will be delivered in late June for charter schools and districts to distribute directly to parents either by mail or sent home in their child’s backpack at the beginning of the next school year. Check with your child’s school to find out more about when and how you will be receiving them.
Parent score reports will include how your child performed individually, as well as how their score compares to peers at their school and around the state. In addition to giving an overall score, the reports also break down each subject into categories to provide you with a more detailed understanding of how your child performed in specific areas of math and English.
You can consider AzMERIT results as part of the overall view of your child’s readiness to be successful in the next grade and in college and career, and also to guide a discussion with their teachers about where additional help might be advised, or where they are ready to learn even more. In your discussion with your child’s teachers, don’t forget to ask about ways to help your child at home.
To learn more about the test and what your child needs to know to be successful, visit ArizonaAimsHigher.org/AzMERIT.
Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child has access to an excellence education, every step of the way. For more information, visit ExpectMoreArizona.org.