The AzMerit is a high-stakes Common Core test that will replace the former AIMS end-of-the-year exam.
”High-stakes testing” is so named because the test outcomes are used to make important, often life-altering decisions. Such decisions may include the denial of a high school diploma, the repetition of a grade, the labeling of students and schools in pejorative ways, the withholding of funding, and even the closing of a school. Students who may do well in school all year but fail a high stakes test may be required to attend summer school and take the test again or spend another year in the same grade.
Who made the test?
The AzMerit was created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) who is a partner with Smarter Balanced (SBAC). These so-called “non-profits” have received over $170 million from the U.S. Department of Education to develop test questions on the Common Core standards. Bill Gates also has contributed millions to these testing consortias. One Arizona Senator (who we would like to keep anonymous) has recently commented to a parent that each question costs approximately $15,000 to develop. AIR’s CEO, David Myers, makes a reported $566,304 yearly salary –not too bad for a “non-profit”. Myers believes “in the use of experimental designs in education settings.” AIR is a behavioral research company who can very easily use psychoanalytic methods to obtain sensitive information on your child.
Who grades the test?
The Arizona Department of Education does not grade and make student data reports on the test. All of this is done by AIR. The AzMerit has cost our state over $19 million dollars just this year. We have a 5 year contract that we signed with AIR to administer the tests. During testing times, AIR will have access to our schools’ wifi for those that are taking the test on computers.
Who can see the test?
Parents, teachers, principals, and most school administrators are not allowed to see the test before, during, or ever after students take it. School employees are required to sign a contract stating that they will not look at the test. Several teacher have even lost their teaching licenses for looking over a student’s shoulder at the test questions. This has been happening since 2005 and is a big departure from American ideals of freedom and transparency.
Why so secretive?
That’s a great question. Some school administrators says that it is due to financial reasons. However, parents and teachers were allowed to view the AIMS test for the first 5 years of its existence. Some teachers have stated that AIR does not want them to view the test and realize how “stupid the test questions are.” Both parents and teachers have concerns with what types of indoctrination may be on the test and/or what types of questions may be asked to reveal sensitive student information such as religious beliefs, political preferences, family views, and etc.
Is the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) allowed to view the test?
Yes, the SPI has seen the test, but is not allowed to disclose any information about it or discuss what she saw.
Has there been any objectionable test questions reported by students?
There have been a few reports from students about test questions that appear to collect information on political views and on a family’s value system. Most reports are on environmental questions. Other have been on who should be the one to decide what reading materials a student should read –a parent or child?
Who got us into this test in the first place?
Please see the “History of AzMerit” page.