March 28, 2017
As the spring testing season approaches, New York state
education leaders are reminding families about a series of
changes to the state’s English language arts (ELA) and math
exams for grades 3-8. The changes, first introduced in 2016,
involve how the tests are created and how the results are used,
while others impact the testing experience for students.
The changes include:
Greater involvement of educators in the test development
New York educators were charged with evaluating and selecting
assessment questions for use on the spring 2017 exams. If
teachers did not like a test question, it was pulled from the
test and replaced with a question they liked better. New York
state teachers are also involved in writing questions that will
appear on grades 3-8 exams in spring 2018.
Exams will have fewer questions
Like last year, students will read one fewer passage and answer
fewer questions overall on all grades 3-8 ELA exams. They will
also have four fewer multiple-choice questions to answer on the
math tests in all grades.
Students will be given as much time as they need to
complete the tests
State education leaders have said that as long as students are
working productively, they will be given as much time as they
need to complete the tests.
Some students will take computer-based exams
Some students will take the grades 3-8 exams on a computer
instead of using a pencil and paper as NYSED helps districts
transition to computer-based testing. Many school leaders
believe computer-based testing will eventually lead to reduced
testing time and faster results.
Moratorium on the use of grades 3-8 ELA/math test scores
in teacher and principal evaluations
The state established a moratorium until the 2019-2020 school
year on the use of state-provided growth scores based on the
grades 3-8 ELA and math exams for the purposes of teacher and
principal accountability. The state
prohibits districts from making student promotion/placement
decisions solely based on state test scores. Also, until
December 31, 2018, school districts cannot include the results
of the grades 3-8 ELA and math tests on students’ official
transcripts or permanent records.
Release of more test questions
The state plans to release at least 75 percent of the exam
questions after the exams are given. Last year, the state
released 75 percent of the exam questions in August. Released
questions can be used by educators to help inform instruction
and improve student learning.
Redesigned score reports for parents
Like last year, the score reports for parents have been made
more user-friendly, so you can know exactly how your child is
doing. Your child’s score is more visible, and shown in better
context. Plus, there is a simple comparison of your child’s
score to his or her peers. The report lists specific skills that
students were asked to use and a simplified explanation of the
assessments. It also more clearly explains helpful next steps
More about the 3-8 ELA and math exams
New York students in grades 3-8 take state exams in English
language arts (ELA) and math each year, typically in
March/April. On the ELA exam, students are asked to read short
passages and answer multiple choice questions or provide textual
evidence to explain their answers. They are also asked to write
an essay. On the math exam, students are asked to use what
they’ve learned in school to answer multiple-choice questions,
as well as show their work on more complex, multi-step problems.