Archive for the ‘AzMERIT’ Category

Teachers like Mrs. Wilbur-Bowers helped students prepare for the AzMERIT test by requiring them to justify their answers.

Teachers like Mrs. Wilbur-Bowers helped students prepare for the AzMERIT test by requiring them to justify their answers.

By Stella deVargas
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High students and staff are adjusting to a new testing environment.
     Before the 2014-2015 year Arizona students took the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS). Last year students began taking AzMERIT instead, which is a more rigorous form of testing that requires the use of computers. They had to learn the online testing tools, how to justify their answers, and how to take the test using the correct format.
     Preparations began very differently for the AzMERIT compared to the first year, when teachers didn’t know what to expect and had students take several practice tests so they could learn how the program worked and how to use all the tools.
     This year, however, teachers began preparing students from the beginning of the year. Eighth grade language arts teacher John Leal feels that his students could spend less time practicing compared to the previous year; he felt his students were ready.
     “Prepping this year was easier because the students were more absorbent of information than the previous year,” said Mr. Leal. “Utilizing the tools all year long has helped students be more familiar with things that they could use to help them.”
     “Since this was the second year of AzMERIT testing, preparations and execution went significantly smoother,” said seventh grade language arts teacher Savana Fallon. “Last year, it was a little nerve-wracking since we didn’t know what to expect and we felt unprepared.”
     Math teacher Marla Aehlert said she spend a lot of time teaching students to show how they arrived at their answers, rather than just solving a problem. Many teachers included the strategy format daily work, which helped students practice and remember it. The justification of answers is an important part of the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards.
     “I tried to make my students better at justifying their answers,” she said. “We wrote down anything and everything (that had) to do with the problems.”
     Most students agreed that the entire testing experience was easier this year.
     “I understood the AzMERIT test better this year by using what I learned last year and combining it with the things I learned this year,” said eighth grader Megan Wagner. “Prepping for the test this year was a lot easier because we learned most of the tools and how to do things last year.”
     “I think most people had a better feeling about it this year because they saw it last year and knew what to expect,” said eighth grader Jaden Erschen.


By Alissa Baker and Kylee DeMauro
Cougar News Blog

     Last school year, sixth graders at Peralta Trail Elementary school took the AzMERIT like other AJUSD students, except they took test on paper. As students at Cactus Canyon this year, they had to adjust to taking the test on computers.
     Students took practice tests on the computer to prepare for the real exams April 11-13. Some students from Peralta find the fact of doing the sample test harder on paper than taking a test on the computers. They agree that some tests are easier on computers but others are better on paper.
     “The sample test was just three questions, obviously, but it wasn’t different from the computers, it was the same. We didn’t have to bubble answers anymore, which was annoying,” said Kristine Funk.
     Taking AzMERIT helps the students so they didn’t have to prefer to type the final draft on the AIMs test. On the writing test, students weren’t required to make an outline or rough draft for their story.
     “It’s much easier taking it on the computer, instead of writing a bunch down, and this would help the other students,” said Jocelyn Ochoa.
     For the math test, calculators and help buttons were included when needed, unlike the AIMs test. Even though the computer system was more complex, it seemed to help out a lot of people.
     “There are a lot more things you could do on the computers, which really helps us out,” says Tirzah Funk.
     Although the new advancements on the system really helped seventh graders, some wonder if the test should be taken by computer for all grades.There is still a risk for younger children clicking on something they shouldn’t.
     “If the children knew how to use the computers, then I think it would be really easy for them. I also think it would help out the teachers too,” said Anthony Odenbrett.

Students prep for AzMERIT

Posted: April 10, 2016 in Academics, AzMERIT, Testing

By Jenevieve Saidi
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High is preparing for their AzMERIT and benchmark tests. The tests are supposed to measure how much students have learned and what information they have retained all year.
     The tests help students because they make sure kids don’t get placed in classes that are too difficult or too easy. They also determine whether a student should be in honors classes or classes that provide extra support.
     “We compare the May benchmark tests to the pretests we took in August to measure how much you’ve grown all year,” said Mrs. Davis.
     AzMERIT will be April 11-14 and the benchmarks will be the week of May 2. Students are given a whole school day to complete each AzMERIT test and as much time as they need to finish the benchmarks. However, they usually finish in the amount of time they are given. Students have demonstrated their Cougar Pride other assessments this year and are expected to do well on the end-of-the-year tests.
     “Our scores on formative assessments have been better than last year” said Mrs. Davis. “Students are showing that they can really rock this last benchmark and AzMERIT.”
     The purpose of the tests is to show how much is learned, how teachers have done, and what information students have retained. The test scores from this year show improvement from last year.
     “We have definitely seen growth. As students become more familiar with the format of our formatives and benchmarks, they are performing better,” Mrs. Davis said.
     Some students will be placed in advanced classes or classes that provide extra support for next year, based on their test scores.
     “It’s hard to take a whole year’s worth of knowledge and remember it in just a couple of hours,” said eighth grader Alexandra Alvarez.

Meagan Clark raises her hand to answer a question during and AIMS review activity in Mrs. Wyatt's class. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

Meagan Clark raises her hand to answer a question during and AIMS review activity in Mrs. Wyatt’s class. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

By Natalie Delintt, Alissa Baker, and Kylee Demauro
Cougar News Blog

     Students at Cactus Canyon Junior High prepared for the science AIMS test that took place on March 30.
     The test, which is only taken by fourth and eighth graders, is the only remaining AIMS test. The state tests for reading, writing, and math switched to the AzMERIT format in 2015. The test consisted of standards students learned their eighth-grade year.
     For review, Candice Wyatt went over most of the standards taught during the 2015-16 school year and had her students use their science journal to help themselves prepare for the test.
     Students have been reviewing off and on for about two months.
     “Reviewing is important to my students because it refreshes their brains and connects old and new material,” said Mrs. Wyatt.
     “Reviewing is a little frustrating for the kids that already knew how to do some of the things, but I know that it is good to review before a big test,” said Will Cobb.
     Wyatt uses old test scores and her class’ prior understanding of different subjects to know if she had to review certain objectives and skip over others.
     Regan Roach assigned homework that required students to use their notebooks because the topics were from the beginning of the year and many students needed a review.
     “Our teachers worked really hard to make sure that we understood everything again so we would do well on the test,” said Cass Casperson.
     Questions on the AIMS test are a little different than questions on benchmarks, in the sense that they are worded differently. This can made them more difficult, even though they are on the same subjects as the regular biweekly tests.
     Mrs. Wyatt said students tend to get the questions wrong because they look confusing, which is why teachers told them to read the question very carefully.
     “Sometimes the questions are more difficult to understand on the AIMS tests and students get confused,” said Wyatt.