A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Greenway’s “A” Depends On Adjusting to AZ Merit Today


As we enter 2nd semester, the big stressor for both teachers and students is none other than the AZ Merit state exam. Now this year’s exam comes with a twist- it’s all online. At Greenway, we’re all used to good old fashioned pencil and paper, but unfortunately we now have to go out with the old and in with the new.

The State has slowly been phasing out online tests for many years to districts across Arizona. Glendale Union High School District has been holding out on taking online exams for as long as possible, but the time has finally come. The biggest priority for Greenway is for teachers to help students develop skills for tests on computers. With the test being on computers, this eliminates some techniques that students have learned to utilize during exams.

In the coming months, Chromebooks will start to be integrated into all classes both core and elective and new test taking methods will be introduced to all students.

“I’m both a little nervous and confident with this years exam. My confidence lies with our students. They always finish the tests with great scores and have always done their best. Also in today’s society, most students are technologically proficient, and I believe they will be able to adjust to the online tests well. With that in mind, the letter grade our school was given is at stake. If we fail to meet certain score requirements, we’ll have to take down our A grade school banner. It is a lot to take in, but I’m very confident in all of our students,” Principal Vreeken said.

“I’m nervous about the technical side of things as well. Schools that encountered errors in the past were due to lack of planning or logistical issues. We are planning very carefully to ensure a smooth testing experience. Teachers are constantly checking to make sure the computers are functioning properly, and we’ve been testing the schools internet bandwidth. If all computers are connected at the same time, only about 36% of the bandwidth is used which is good because that will ensure a strong and constant connection,” he said.

“Along with teaching online skills to ensure student success, we will be holding a practice test session on March 14th. This will help students get an idea of what the exam will be like and the staff can check to make sure everything works properly,” he said.

“Testing days will still be simple, 1/2 days wilt no extra classes. We want students to minimize stress, and therefore having them only focus on one test at a time is a good way to ensure success with minimal concern,” Vreeken said.

From the sounds of it, students aren’t too nervous about the up coming changes to AZ Merit.

“I feel fine. Not really concerned.” (Michael McGraw, sophomore)

“It’s gonna be annoying to have to use the mouse for stuff we normally do with a pencil.”(Logan Roper, freshman)

“I’m not a fan of the test, so I don’t really have a preference as to whether its online or on paper.” (Fausto Anaya, Junior)

Hopefully once students and staff have a chance to take the practice test, they’ll feel more prepared and confident for when the real test rolls around. Remember, the practice test will be held on March 14th, 2018. Greenway will try master all of the obstacles in the way.