The Arizona Department of Education has heard from school community members expressing concerns about the logistics of administering assessments amid COVID-19, including the accountability measures attached to those assessments. We take those concerns seriously, and to the extent possible under state and federal law, we are committed to offering flexibility and support to our public schools administering those exams.
Currently, AZ Merit 2 (AzM2) and other statewide assessments, such as AZELLA, AZSCI, and Alternate Assessment, are still scheduled to be administered in Spring 2021. While there are state requirements related to the federally required administration of statewide assessments, the authority to cancel the administration of statewide assessments lies solely with the federal government. At this point, the federal government has not issued a waiver, and all students must be tested even if they are participating in distance learning.
During the December 14, 2020, Arizona State Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the extension of the AzM2 testing window by two weeks. The Board also approved a resolution indicating they were supportive of the state legislature removing the burden of assigning school letter grades this year.
Additionally, this week we’ve seen two key actions impacting statewide assessments:
- HB2402: Prohibits the Arizona Department of Education from assigning schools or districts letter grades for School Year 2021.
- The Arizona Department of Education was supportive of this bill.
- This bill passed both the House and Senate, and Governor Ducey signed the bill into law on February 15, 2021.
- Executive Order 2021-03: Issued by Governor Ducey, this executive order directs the AZ State Board of Education to utilize AzM2 and other assessment data from this school year to draw comparisons to other years by identifying the learning that took place during the pandemic.
Building on this information, our Assessments team developed an FAQ to help promote understanding of the various statewide assessments, how COVID-19 has impacted those assessments, and what flexibilities, if any, exist with administering those tests.