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State Test Parent Letter 2016

Dear Parents,

I am writing today to let you know about several improvements to the New York State English Language Arts and Math exams that students take in April.

This year, the State has made changes to the exams in response to legitimate concerns from parents and educators over previous years’ tests. This year’s exams will have fewer questions and will not have a time limit for students as long as they are working productively – reducing testing stress for students and parents. Students, including those requiring accommodations, will be able to work at their own pace in order to fully demonstrate their knowledge of the subject.

Additionally, teachers from across the City and New York State have had a greater say in developing tests for this year and future years. Their input will ensure that the tests truly measure what students are learning in the classroom every day. And, after the State tests are completed, teachers will receive earlier access to exam questions and results so that they have more time to plan for the next school year.

It is important to note that State exams are just one of multiple measures we use to assess student progress. A student’s promotion and school admissions are determined through a multi-measure, inclusive process which gives us a holistic perspective on how to best support your child’s achievement.

I want to emphasize the value of these tests. They are incredibly important for teachers and schools, who use the results to improve instruction and to provide individual support to all of our students. They are a valuable experience for our students, helping them learn to rise to a challenge and apply the skills they’ve been taught every day.

As a mother and grandmother, I appreciate these efforts to reduce student stress and make sure State exams are as educationally valuable as possible. I urge you to support your child in taking these tests and I encourage you to reach out to your child’s school if you have additional questions about these changes to the State exams.

Sincerely,

Carmen Fariña

Test Changes Flyer for Parents

Changes to the 2016 Grade 3-8 Assessments: What Parents Need to Know 

Every spring, the Grade 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests are administered to students across New York State. Below you will find information on the changes that the State Education Department has made to these tests for 2016. 

Decreased Number of Test Questions 

The 2016 Grade 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) Tests will have one less reading passage and fewer questions to answer. The 2016 Grade 3-8 Mathematics Tests will also have fewer questions.

Untimed Testing 

The 2016 Grade 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests will be untimed. This change gives students more opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do by allowing them to work at their own pace. In general, this means that as long as students are productively working, they will have as much time as they need to finish their tests.

Greater Teacher Involvement 

The State Education Department has increased the number of New York State teachers involved in creating and reviewing the assessments and will expand opportunities for teachers to be involved in future test development.

  • Teachers from across the State gathered in Albany in October 2015 to evaluate and select questions for the 2016 tests.
  • Beginning in fall 2015 and going forward, a greater number of New York State teachers have been—and will continue to be—involved in the review of all test questions and final test forms.
  •  For the first time ever, New York State teachers will write the test questions for the Grade 3-8 ELA and Mathematics tests. These questions will first be used on the 2018 tests.

New Test Vendor 

Last summer, Questar Assessment Inc. was awarded the State’s Grade 3-8 ELA and Mathematics assessment contract. Questar Assessment Inc. has partnered with the Department on the changes described above and on other changes to the Grade 3-8 ELA and Mathematics tests.

Questions about testing programs, policies, and procedures may be sent to emscassessinfo@nysed.gov