There’s a Change Coming to Standardized Testing in Arizona and the US Department of Education, and Parents of Students With Disabilities May Have Something to Say About It.

News & Updates January 11th, 2019

FIRST, SOME BACKGROUND:

Do you remember AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards)? What about AzMERIT(Arizona's Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching)? Regardless of how you feel about them, if you have school-aged children in Arizona, you probably recognize the names of the state standardized tests Arizona has given to students. Did you know that it was the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001 that tied federal education dollars to the requirement that states administer ‘a single statewide assessment’ for all students thereby pushing states to develop and administer such assessments?

Fast-forward from 2001 to 2016 when the Arizona Legislature passed ARS 15-741 which directs the state board of education to adopt a ‘menu of assessments to measure pupil achievement of the state academic standards’ beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The menu of assessments developed by the Arizona State Board of Education includes the ACT, SAT, International Baccalaureate exams in addition to a few others.

Because a ‘menu of assessments’ is different from ‘a single statewide assessment,’ the Arizona Department of Education must get permission from the United States Department of Education to make the change to ensure they continue receiving federal education dollars. ADE has submitted a waiver to USDOE requesting permission to allow Arizona schools that have requested it, to replace AzMERIT with a selection from the menu of assessments for grades 9-12 beginning this school year. At this time, the ACT and the SAT are the only two replacement assessments any schools have requested.

NOW WE’VE COME FULL CIRCLE

Until Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, YOU have a chance to share your thoughts, through public comment, on how you feel about schools administering tests from the new ‘menu of assessments’ to students with disabilities. Some questions and concerns that have been raised are:

  • How will accommodations for students with disabilities be provided?
  • Will/do the ACT and SAT provide text to speech accommodations similar to those available on the AzMERIT?
  • Is Arizona’s State education funding at risk if we do not have a single statewide assessment?
  • What is the procedure and timeline for requesting and getting accommodations for the ACT/SAT?
  • Do the ACT/SAT measure Arizona State Standards?
  • For years, many students with disabilities have been preparing and practicing to successfully complete the AzMERIT exam and will now be given a wholly unfamiliar test. What is the plan for adequately preparing students for the new assessment given the time constraints?

What are your thoughts? Questions?

Click here to submit your comments electronically. You can also submit them directly to Audra Ahumada, Deputy Associate Superintendent of Assessments, Arizona Department of Education, 1535 West Jefferson St. Bin #6, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Ms. Ahumada may be reached by telephone at 602-542-5450, by fax at 602-542-5467 or through email at Audra.Ahumada@azed.gov.

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