The Arizona Department of Education released scores for the state’s new standardized test Monday, showing what many already expected: a very low percentage of students passed English and math subjects.
The scores for AzMerit show that only 34 percent of all students passed the English test, while 35 percent passed the math one.
Education advocates say that was to be expected during the first year of the test and after a quick rollout that didn’t give teachers or students much time to prepare.
AzMerit, short for Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching, measures the state’s new teaching standards, commonly known as Common Core. The test was first administered this spring to public school students grades 3 through high school.
Department of Education spokesman Charles Tack said the results were expected, but that the state still needs to do a lot to increase students’ performance. The department is especially concerned about low-income and minority students, who fared particularly poorly, he said.
“Unfortunately that’s a trend that has been here for a long time that we’re working our very hardest to combat,” Tack said.
In many cases, less than 25 percent of economically disadvantaged, Latino and African American students passed the test.
American Indians performed even more poorly, with only 13 percent passing the English test and only 17 percent passing the math.
Heidi Vega, spokeswoman for the Arizona School Boards Association, said teachers and students didn’t have a lot of time to prepare and that the results shouldn’t be compared with the state’s former test, known as AIMS.
“It’s accurate to say from this year on now we have something to compare. It’s just raising that expectations, making them higher, and of course just trying to get people to understand these benchmarks are different than what was in the past,” Vega said.
The association has worked hard to get parents to understand this is a whole new way of testing, Vega said. AzMerit, for example, doesn’t have multiple choice or time limits, she said.
“Yes, it is rigorous, but it’s rigor and rigor is good,” Vega said.