Student Participation in Grades 3-8 New York State Tests - Parent Guide

posted Apr 9, 2013, 11:59 AM by Sylwia Jasinski   [ updated Apr 9, 2013, 12:00 PM ]
Student Participation in Grades 3-8 New York State Tests
What are the State and federal rules about test participation?
The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that State tests be administered in English language arts and
mathematics in Grades 3-8, and in science at least once during Grades 3-5 and 6-9. In accordance with the federal
and State requirements, public school students in grades 3-8 take assessments administered for their grade level.
How are test results used?
State assessments are an important part of a student’s core educational program. They provide an evaluation of
student mastery of content and skills in various courses of study and help shape future instruction.
This year, for the first time, State tests in English language arts and mathematics for students in grades 3-8 will be
aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards, which define what students need to know at each grade level to
be on track to graduate high school ready for college and careers. Along with student work on classroom
assignments, projects, essays, and assessments, State test results give teachers important information about where
students are on their path towards college and careers.
State test results are also used along with other factors to inform decisions about students and schools. Educators
use State test results to determine whether students are prepared for promotion to the next grade, and to inform
decisions about admission to some middle and high schools. The New York City Department of Education uses test
results to evaluate schools on the New York City Progress Reports. The State uses test results to evaluate schools as
required by State and federal accountability rules, and in accordance with State regulations, New York City will begin
using test scores as part of teachers’ evaluations beginning next school year.
Is there a provision for parents to opt their children out of State tests or request an alternative evaluation?
With the exception of certain areas in which parental consent is required, such as Committee on Special Education
(CSE) evaluations for students with disabilities and certain federally-funded surveys and analyses specified under the
federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, there is no provision in the State statute or regulation allowing
parents to opt their children out of State tests or request an alternative evaluation. For more information, see this
State guidance.
What happens during test administration if a student is absent or refuses to take a State test?
If a student is absent during test administration, the school will administer the test during the makeup period. If a
student is also absent during the makeup period, the student will not be tested. If a student is in school and refuses
to take a State test, he or she will be engaged in another instructional activity, such as reading or completing
another project or assignment.
What happens after test administration if a student does not participate in State testing?
When students do not participate in State testing, there are implications for their promotion and enrollment, and
for schools’ State accountability status.
For promotion decisions, students who do not have State test results complete a portfolio assessment in accordance
with Chancellor’s Regulation A-501. Promotion portfolio assessments are prepared based on specified exercises
that assess students’ proficiency. Results are reviewed by the teacher, principal and then by the superintendent,
who makes a final determination based upon standard benchmarks. Students who do not achieve proficiency based
on the portfolio assessment will be recommended for summer school.
For enrollment decisions, grades 3 and 4 test scores are used for Gifted and Talented placement in grades 4 and 5;
grade 4 scores are used for placement for some middle school programs, and grade 7 scores are used for the high
school admissions process. Students without test scores can still participate in these admissions processes, but they
may be at a disadvantage because their applications won’t have as much information as those of their peers. Some
schools may review promotion portfolio assessments or other information, but not all schools do.
For school accountability: Under State and federal accountability rules, New York State measures each school’s rate
of participation in State tests. If less than 95% of a school or one or more of its subgroups of students (e.g., Hispanic
students, students with disabilities, Limited English Proficient students) take the assessment, the school does not
make Adequate Yearly Progress.
Schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) can be identified as Local Assistance Plan schools by New
York State. In addition, schools that do not make AYP cannot become Reward schools, and existing Priority and
Focus schools that do not make the AYP participation target cannot be removed from negative status. Priority,
Focus, and Local Assistance Plan schools are reviewed for support and intervention.
While no new Priority schools will be identified through the 2014-15 school year, a school’s accountability status can
change. For example, schools in Good Standing can become Focus or Local Assistance Plan schools, and existing
Priority and Focus schools can be removed from negative status if they meet the AYP participation target and other
performance requirements. All intervention decisions are based on intensive review of many factors; no
intervention would ever be made solely on the basis of the State test participation rate.
How will this year’s State test results impact New York City Progress Reports?
This year’s test results will inform schools’ New York City Progress Reports. As the State tests change in alignment
with the Common Core Learning Standards, the Progress Report will continue to account for changes in the tests by
measuring each school’s performance in comparison to other schools. Schools whose test scores are lower than in
past years can continue to receive high Progress Report grades if their students’ performance and progress are
higher relative to other schools, particularly schools serving similar students. The distribution of elementary and
middle schools’ grades will also remain fixed, so there will not be an increase in the percentage of schools that
receive low grades.
How will this year’s State test results impact teacher evaluations?
This year, test scores will not impact teacher evaluations and teachers will continue to be evaluated using the
existing Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory system that does not include students’ test scores. Next year and in the future,
test scores will be factored into teacher evaluations. The State’s model for measuring teacher growth includes
protections to keep teachers’ evaluations from being impacted by changes to the tests.