AZMerit High Stakes test now accounts for 90% of a school’s letter grade

An article published on April 28, 2017 in the Arizona Daily Independent, reports on a recent vote by the Arizona State Board of Education to use the results of Common Core-aligned AZMerit high stakes test to grade public schools.  

Arizonans Against Common Core, Mommy Lobby AZ, and Opt Out AZ, released a statement after the vote: “Parents advocating for their children and teachers are dismayed by the A-F Accountability plan adopted by the Arizona State Board of Education. One high stakes test now accounts for 90% of a school’s letter grade. This decision reveals the SBE believes parents are incapable of selecting schools on their own. Few other factors matter to the state; however, parents make thoughtful school choices based on their own values, research, and judgment.”

So, the AZ. State Board of Education is using the controversial, unvalidated, one-size-fits all, secretive, high stakes AZ Merit to “evaluate” every public school in Arizona. The only people who have seriously donned their thinking caps are SBE board member Jared Taylor, Choice Academies president Ms. Lisa Fink, and commentators “Listen to a Mom” and Edward Cizek. The letter grade a school receives using AZ Merit scores as the most critical criteria, will be useless to parents. Do the board members actually believe otherwise? What a waste of time, effort, and money. Ms. Fink, who is quoted extensively, uses Consumer Reports as an example of what truly passes for an evaluation of a product.  I would add that we use far more criteria evaluating the nutritional value of canned soup and cereal.

If you want to the know the truth about what has been driving the adoption of the entire Common Core machine, including AZMerit, a commenter on the Stop Common Core Facebook site accurately reveals it with his statement:  "Follow the money. Anyone who pushes something like this is likely being paid on the back end."

He’s right.  The Arizona State Board of Education, at Gov. Jan Brewer’s insistence,* adopted Common Core back in 2010 for the purpose of "winning" some of the federal government’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top giveaway.   That’s the reason Arizona and most other states adopted the Core–not for its research-based-field-tested high quality.  It wasn’t validated, researched, or field tested.  Students all across America became the guinea pigs in this grand experiment.  Schools everywhere rushed to buy "Common Core-aligned" textbooks, test materials, computers, you name it.  Book publishers, test makers, computer manufacturers, etc., all started raking in cash. See As Chromebook sales soar in schools, Apple and Microsoft fight back and Apple’s Devices Lose Luster in American Classrooms. Microsoft’s Bill Gates funneled millions into Common Core, finding its way to organizations like Stand for Children, Expect More Arizona, and the Chamber of Commerce. Back in November 2013, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave nearly $2 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "to support Common Core State Standards Implementation." The Common Core machine is a massive money-making operation.   See Has YOUR Legislator been Endorsed by Pro Common Core, Anti-Parent "Stand for Children"?Is Expect More Arizona in it "for the Money"?, Ten Common Core Promoters Laughing all the Way to the BankTextbook Executive: “Common Core’s All About the Money." 

As Ms. Fink correctly stated in the Arizona Daily Independent article and in an appearance on the James T. Harris radio show, "AZMerit was created by American Institute of Research (AIR),  which is a behavioral organization. They do psychological testing, and so why is that agency being utilized to provide an academic test"?  AIR was instrumental in developing the SAGE test for Utah.  Arizona, along with Florida and Tennessee, purchased the "rights" to Utah’s SAGE for $10 million.  Arizona renamed it AZMerit.   This is "local control"? 

Arizona and other states might have had "input" into the development of Common Core, but none of it made it past the true architect: David Coleman.   See David Coleman, Architect of the Common Core System.  He is also the current president and chief executive officer of the College Board, and has carefully aligned the SAT with Common Core.  More "local control"?  

In response, more and more colleges and universities don’t accept either the SAT or ACT Scores to admit students into bacheor-degree programs.  See 950+ Accredited Colleges and Universities That Do Not Use ACT/SAT Scores to Admit Substantial Numbers of Students Into Bachelor-Degree Programs

The only people who see through this travesty are the parents who are pulling their kids out of the government schools and home-schooling them, whether individually or through home school co-ops.  They also are supporting their strongest ally at the Arizona State Legislature: Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE).  As a home-school parent, If you are interested in an alternative to the SAT or ACT, consider the Classic Learning Test.

*In August 2009, a month after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the $4.3 billion Race to the Top competition, Arizona State board member Jaime Molera advised that Gov. Brewer had asked Dr. Deb Duval, former Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, to lead Arizona’s efforts in grubbing for Race to the Top money.  In its 345-page application and appendices, Arizona agreed to adopt Common Core and meet every federal demand…for the "chance" at winning $250 million (which it didn’t win).  Arizona was one of 15 states hand-picked by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to receive up to $250,000 to hire consultants to help them fill out their applications.  See Gates Gives 15 States an Edge in Race to the Top.

See Also:

Arizona K-12 School Finance Statistics: PROVIDING CONTEXT TO A COMPLEX MEASUREMENT  

Feds Admit U.S. Education Department "Forced" States to Accept Common Core From its Start  

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Common Core Standards

Common Core 101, by Dr. Megan Koschnick

Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative 

Statement for New York State Assembly Education Forum, Mary Calamia, LCSW, CASAC.