Schools see dramatic drops in preliminary AZMerit scores

Results broken down into grade levels
KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 9:40 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Education leaders across the nation expected some standardized test scores to drop because of pandemic learning.

And younger students have been among those hardest hit by academic disruptions.

Preliminary data in Math and English from the Sunnyside district confirms the predictions.

After years of steady gains AZMerit test scores plummet.

The data shows only 39% of students tested passed English. Only 31% percent passed Math.

Sunnyside Superintendent Steve Holmes predicted this would happen in his district. “We saw significant drops across all grade levels and performance,” he said.

The decline is more dramatic in grades 3 to 5.

Preliminary AZMerit results in Grades 3-5
Preliminary AZMerit results in Grades 3-5(KOLD)

In English (ELA), Arizona students lost some ground with a range of 7% to 9%.

In Sunnyside passing rates dip further -- 17% to 19%.

There’s a steeper decline in passing percentages in Math.

Arizona numbers show a drop of 14% to 15% while Sunnyside’s rate is higher -- 26% to 30% -- the steepest across the board.

Students in middle school fared better on the test.

Prelim. AZMerit scores for Grades 6-8
Prelim. AZMerit scores for Grades 6-8(KOLD)

In English, Arizona and Sunnyside scores are closer, except seventh grade, where the gap is wider at Sunnyside.

Holmes said he’s ready for the recovery efforts. He didn’t wait to plan for the scenario the scores reflect.

“Academically we need to hit the ground running, right. We cannot just wait for another few weeks to get warmed up. We got to get to those academic skills pretty quickly so we can start identifying where those gaps exist,” said Holmes.

There are no percentages to compare at the high school level.

Holmes explains the state changed the test in 2021.

“So it’s almost a baseline year to be honest, because they did not take the same test as they took the last year. So that’s a bit of an anomaly in the data., not to say we did any better, right?,” he said.

Prelim. AZMerit scores for HS
Prelim. AZMerit scores for HS(KOLD)

The Arizona numbers show 32% passed English and 26% passed Math.

The performance gap is wider at Sunnyside.

The percentage passing English is 11% and 8% in Math.

The preliminary stats reveal, as Holmes suspected, a very steep climb ahead, but he’s optimistic.

“I believe in our students, I believe in our teachers, I believe we can really get back on track,” said Holmes.

The preliminary results are from the vender that provides the test to Arizona. They are made available to schools before the state conducts quality checks and correction.

Education leaders say there’s usually some variance, but it’s not drastic.

The ADE says the official results are expected to be released in a few weeks.

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