The anticipated arrival of spring signals the start of another seasonal activity for our students in Grades 3 through 8. The annual New York State (NYS) assessments for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics will be administered in a few short months. These annual tests are designed to measure how well students are mastering the NYS learning standards that guide classroom instruction. They also help to ensure that students are on track to graduate from high school with the critical thinking, problem solving, and reasoning skills needed for success in college and the modern workplace. The tests also show how schools and districts are progressing with the learning standards.
In recent years the State Education Department has made a number of changes to the annual Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Assessments. These changes were first implemented in 2016 and will continue for the 2019 administration of them.
Beginning in 2016, Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests are untimed so students who need more time to demonstrate what they know and can do will be able to work at their own pace. This means that as long as students are working productively, they will have as much time as they need to complete their tests, within the confines of the regular school day.
Fewer Test Questions
The number of test questions on the state assessments has been reduced.
Grades 3-8 ELA Tests have one less reading passage and fewer questions than tests prior to 2016. Math Assessments also have fewer questions.
Greater Teacher Involvement
Hundreds of New York State educators were involved in creating and reviewing the NYS assessments. Beginning in fall 2015, New York State teachers have been—and will continue to be—involved in the review of all test questions and in the construction of test forms. Teachers from across the State gathered in Albany throughout the summer and fall of 2016 and 2017 to evaluate and select questions for state tests. Going forward, New York State teachers will write the test questions for the Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests. These questions were first used on the 2018 tests. This process will continue for 2019 and beyond.
Faster Results for Teachers and Improved Resources for Parents
As in recent years, the State Education Department plans to have instructional reports returned to teachers by the end of the school year and release at least 75-percent of the test questions to inform instructional decisions.
Also, like last year, the 2019 Score Reports for parents will feature an updated clear design with more information about what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. These reports will be ready over the summer.
Additionally, NYS has transitioned to Computer-Based Testing (CBT) for students in Grades 3-8. Most districts across NYS have administered the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests on a computer for all or some grade levels and subjects. The State Education Department has stated that CBT will be mandated across all grade levels beginning in the 2019-20 school year. In Guilderland, we took a small step toward CBT with the 2018 administration of CBT for grade 5 mathematics. By all accounts, we were well prepared and experienced no complications or technical difficulties with this new format. As such, we are ready to administer the 2019 tests for ELA and math via CBT. Doing so will give us one additional opportunity to fully assess how our students perform and to determine what programmatic changes need to be made to ensure our students are prepared for this new form of assessment. Please note that we will administer ELA during the week of April 1. Math will be administered during between April 30 and May 7.
In the coming weeks and months leading up to these computer-based tests, students will be engaged in guided practice sessions to ensure that they are comfortable with the tools and platform to be used for CBT. Classroom teachers will co-facilitate these sessions with curriculum leaders and/or technology specialists. They will use a variety of tools including test samplers developed to give students adequate time to experience a CBT. Additionally, all 3-8 students will participate in a brief practice test session on February 26. This session will be a very brief opportunity for students, teachers, and administrators to gain additional exposure to CBT. This “dry run” will have no impact on grades and is simply practice. It will also provide the district with an opportunity to ensure that all necessary technology and connectivity is in place and working well. If you are interested in experiencing a CBT for yourself please go to https://goo.gl/GVTWGF.
You can find more information about the State tests (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/ei/eigen.html) on the State Education Department’s website.
We look forward to your child’s success with New York State tests this spring.
Dr. Marie Wiles
Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Demian Singleton
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction