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NYS testing information for 3-8 families

Filed in Archive, District by on March 21, 2018

The following letter was emailed to 3-8 parents on March 21, 2018:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

This spring, we will once again be administering the New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests according to the schedule below:

English Language Arts (Grades 3-8) 

  • April 11-12, 2018
    Make-up dates: April 13-18, 2018

Mathematics (Grades 3-8)

  • May 1-2, 2018
    Make-up dates: May 3-9, 2018

The purpose of this letter is to provide current and accurate information for parents to consider regarding state testing. We understand and respect the concerns some parents and guardians may have about testing. However, we encourage test participation and would like to explain how we use the results to improve education for your child and also share some of the changes that are meant to further improve testing conditions this year.  

The most important thing we want parents to know is the state assessments provide us with important data that we use to improve education for all students. We view these tests as a measure of our performance, not your child’s. For example, if we find a grade is struggling with a math concept, we may enhance instruction in that area with new resources or adjust how we teach the concept. These tests can also be helpful as they provide an additional data point when considering students for RtI, Challenge, AIS, and the accelerated math program.

When fewer students take the exams, we are left with an incomplete picture of how students are learning. This limits our ability to address issues that would improve how we educate our students. This is a key reason that educational groups like the National PTA urge parents to allow students to take these assessments.

Our teachers, staff and administrators do everything we can to make students feel comfortable taking exams. Like any test, we ask our students to simply do their best. In response to parent and educator concerns, New York State has also made a number of changes to testing this year. These include:

  • Results not tied to evaluations: The 2018 Grades 3–8 ELA and Math Tests results will not be used to evaluate teachers or principals. In December 2015, the Board of Regents approved a moratorium on using student scores for educators’ evaluation scores. This moratorium will remain in place until 2019 as the state is developing a new evaluation system.
  • Fewer testing days: The 2018 Grades 3–8 ELA and Math Tests have been reduced from three test sessions per subject to only two sessions per subject this year, meaning each subject will have two days of testing instead of three. With fewer test sessions, each test will have substantially fewer questions than in recent years, lessening test fatigue for students and better enabling them to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.
  • Untimed tests: Like the 2016 and 2017 tests, the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests will be untimed. In general, this means that as long as students are working productively, they will have as much time as they need to complete each test session, within the confines of the regular school day.
  • More teacher involvement: Hundreds of New York State educators were involved in creating and reviewing questions for 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests and selecting the questions for the test forms. This year, the assessments will feature many test questions written by New York State teachers specifically for the annual New York State tests. The future goal is for all test questions to be written by NYS educators.
  • Early release of test questions and instructional reports: Like 2017, the New York State Department of Education will release 75% of questions from the 2018 tests and the instructional reports on or around June 1st.  This early release allows districts to analyze the data over the summer months and make any necessary curricular adjustments.

I hope this information helps explain how we use the state’s testing program to evaluate and measure student growth. While we will respect the wishes of any parent who requests their child not take the exams, we believe participation helps improve our instructional program.

If you have any questions at all, please contact me, the appropriate department supervisor, or your student’s principal. We want to ensure you have all the answers you need on this important issue.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

David Hurst
Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs

Contact Us


David Hurst
Assistant Superintendent
dhurst@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-3102

David Palmer
Interim K-12 ELA Supervisor
dpalmer@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-4921 x22048

William Clairmont
K-12 Mathematics Supervisor
wclairmont@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-4921 x22048

Michael Klugman
Principal, Bethlehem Central MS
mklugman@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-7460

Dianna Reagan
Principal, Eagle Elementary
dreagan@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 694-8825

Andy Baker
Interim Principal, Elsmere Elementary
abaker1@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-7546

Laura Heffernan
Principal, Glenmont Elementary
lheffernan@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 463-1154

Dave Ksanznak
Principal, Hamagrael Elementary
dksanznak@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-4905

Heidi Bonacquist
Principal, Slingerlands Elementary
hbonacquist@bethlehemschools.org
(518) 439-7681