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Meeting of the Board of Regents | October 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010 - 8:40am

SED Letterhead                                                                                   




P-12 Education Committee


John B. King, Jr.


Testing Program Update


October 1, 2010


Goals 1 and 2




Issue for Discussion

The Board of Regents has requested an update on the following Testing Programs: Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics; Comprehensive Regents Examination in English; and the PARCC and NCSC Test Consortia.

Proposed Handling

This Item will come before the P-12 Education Committee for discussion at the October 2010 meeting.

Background Information

Grades 3-8 Testing Program

  • The New York State Testing Program (NYSTP) is designed to evaluate the implementation of the State Learning Standards at the student, school, district, and statewide levels. These tests present the opportunity to: annually assess the implementation of the State’s learning standards; measure individual student and cohort progress; and gather data on student readiness for study at the next level. New York State is required to administer tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  These tests must: address the depth and breadth of the State’s Learning Standards; be valid, reliable, and of high technical quality; and be designed to provide a coherent system across grades and subjects.  The Grades 3-8 Testing Program is administered to approximately 300,000 students per grade in both public and nonpublic schools.  With the exception of the small population of severely disabled students who qualify to take the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA), all students, general education, students with disabilities (SWDs), and English Language Learners (ELLs) in all public school districts are required to take these tests.
  • After the administration of the 2010 ELA and math exams, the Department reset cut scores to signal student progress towards college and career readiness. The established cut scores classify student proficiency into one of four Performance Levels based on their test performance:

Level 1:  Below Standard

            Student performance does not demonstrate an understanding of the ELA/mathematics content expected at this grade level.

            Level 2:  Meets Basic Standard
            Student performance demonstrates a partial understanding of the ELA/mathematics content expected at this grade level.

            Level 3:  Meets Proficiency Standard
            Student performance demonstrates an understanding of the ELA/mathematics content expected at this grade level.

            Level 4:  Exceeds Proficiency Standard
            Student performance demonstrates a thorough understanding of the ELA/mathematics content expected at this grade level.

  • The Department has made changes to the format of the testing program for the Spring 2011 exams. For ELA and math exams, the number of multiple-choice questions have been expanded to allow for greater performance indicator coverage and to provide more precise estimates of student abilities in all four performance levels. The grades 3, 5, and 7 ELA exams will contain an extended response question (essay).
  • The administration time has been extended to account for changes in the length of the tests and the exams will be administered in May to ensure that schools will have time to teach the tested curriculum.
  • The Department will continue its research studies by conducting another audit test function. This will allow for: more complete measurement of NYS Learning Standards; stronger interpretations of year-to-year trend results; and comparisons between NYS students their and achievement to the nation as a whole. Analysis of the data from the audit test function can be used for verification of the test equating results and for monitoring for potential score inflation.

Comprehensive Regents Examination in English

  • In February 2009, the Board directed Department staff to redesign the English Regents so it can be administered in one, three-hour session. This work has been completed and the first administration of the redesigned English Regents Exam is scheduled for January 2011. A Test Sampler was released to the field in June 2010.
  • The Department will standard set the exam in January and expects to return scores to schools in late January (tentatively). Staff is researching standard setting approaches to ensure that the data from the English Regents and the Grades 3-8 Exams are aligned and that the cut scores on the assessment denote college and/or career readiness.

Race to the Top Assessment Competition: Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) Update

  • PARCC is a state-led assessment consortium with 26 member states with over 31 million students; New York is also a member of the Governing Board. PARCC originally received a $170 million Race to the Top award from USED to design and develop the system. Recently, USED awarded an additional $15.87 million dollars to the consortium.
  • PARCC states are committed to building an assessment system that is internationally benchmarked; proficient scores on the assessments will mean students are on track for the next steps in their education, including postsecondary education and training after high school.
  • PARCC will design a computer-based assessment system that will contain innovative item types and provide teachers feedback on student progress throughout the school year, helping them to target and adjust their instruction. The consortium is designing a “through-course assessment system” that will emphasize performance-based work and higher-order critical thinking skills. At certain points during the year, students will complete performance-based items and at the end of the year, a concluding summative test. All scores will be rolled into one comprehensive test score that will be used to evaluate student achievement and for accountability system determinations. 
  • All states in the PARCC consortium will adopt common assessments that are aligned to the Common Core Standards and performance standards, which will allow for legitimate cross-state comparisons.
  • PARCC is also developing formative tools including: 1) the Partnership Resource Center, an online resource that will include released items with item data, student work, and rubrics; 2) a Test Complexity Diagnostic Tool; and 3) K-2 Assessments in ELA and mathematics.
  • To ensure college and career readiness, PARCC is working with over 200 postsecondary systems and institutions across all 26 PARCC states. Higher Education will partner with PARCC to help develop college–ready high school assessments; guide strategy to engage all colleges and universities in PARCC states; and lay the groundwork for implementation of college-ready high school assessments as valid placement instruments for credit-bearing courses. PARCC will form a College-Ready Advisory Committee.
  • PARCC is actively planning to issue RFPs to start the test design and development work later this fall. The tests are slated for administration in the 2014-2015 school year.

and State Collaborative (NCSC) General Supervision Enhancement Grant Project (GSEG)

  • This is a test consortium that was organized by: the National Center on Educational Outcomes; the National Center for Improvement of Educational Assessment; the Universities of Kentucky and North Carolina, Charlotte; and EdCount. There are 19 states participating. While this is not a Race to the Top Assessment Grant, the organizing groups utilized the same approach to structuring their consortium.
  • The Consortium was awarded a grant of approximately $43.7 million for a four- year period from the USED’s Office of Special Education Programming.
  • The NCSC Consortium will design an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (AA-AAS) to develop a comprehensive assessment system for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The new AA-AAS system will be designed to measure individual student growth and produce scores to fully address other demands being placed on these assessments through Race to the Top innovations and ESEA reauthorization.
  • The project will create a comprehensive system that will coherently address state needs by: 1) producing technically defensible formative, interim, and summative assessments; and 2) supporting evidence-based instruction and curriculum models.
  • Organizational meetings to start the test design and development work are scheduled for later this month.