How parents can help their children prepare for AzMERIT

Tips for getting students ready for testing that starts Monday

Expect More Arizona Tips for Parents:

Talk to child’s teacher

Reinforce critical-thinking skills

Practice at home

Keep track of test days

Don’t stress

All students across the state are beginning the AzMERIT standardized testing process as of this week.

The calendar for Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching (AzMERIT) is between March 27 to May 4, with the writing portions to be completed by April 21 and the grade 3 reading and math to be finished no later than April 28. Prescott Unified Schools District will begin the computer-based testing period at the high school on Monday, April 3

AzMERIT is the annual statewide test that measures how students are performing in English and math, with the assessments used to help guide future instruction. Students in third through eighth grade are tested on English language arts and math at their grade level; high school students between ninth and 11th grades are administered end-of-course tests, with students taking Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 11 also taking end-of-course tests.

With that in mind, the state educational advocacy group Expect More Arizona, as well as area school leaders, want to offer tips to parents and students so they can be prepared and avoid “test anxiety.” They want to assure that students go into the test confident that they have been adequately prepared throughout the year to answer the questions on this test that does require critical analysis and problem-solving skills with the use of current technology. Some districts still do paper-based tests, but 70 percent of state districts now have the computer expertise to use that version, including those in the greater Prescott region.

In the Prescott Unified School District, all school leaders have been sending notices to parents to keep them informed about the testing process and have been available to answer questions and calm parent and student nerves, said Superintendent Joe Howard.

Many students suffer from “test anxiety” and Howard said teachers work with them to be confident that they have been taught what they need to know. And if they do not know a question, they should not worry. Just go on to the next question, he said.

Students are advised to get a good night’s rest and eat a healthy breakfast so they come to school ready. “Then take a deep breath, and do your best,” he said.

Expect More Arizona offers five key tips for parents that begin with talking to a child’s teacher about their expectations and how the parent can reinforce preparation for the test. Another recommendation is to read to one’s child at home and ask questions about the content or ask a child to explain how they reached the answer to a math problem the test. Parents are also advised to try and keep activities around test days to the minimum so the students are not overtired or stressed about other obligations.

The final tip to parents: don’t stress. If you don’t stress over the test, your child won’t either.

“With very few exceptions, test results should be used to determine areas of strength and weakness so students can monitor and adjust,” said an Expect More Arizona

news release. “… AzMERIT and other standardized tests are not the finish line.”