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EMSC Committee


John B. King, Jr.


Grades 3-8 Testing Program Update


January 28, 2010


Goal 1






Issue for Discussion

An update on the 2009-10 and 2010-11 Grades 3-8 Testing Program.


Reason(s) for Consideration


For Information

Proposed Handling

This update will be discussed by the Regents EMSC Committee at the February 2010 Regents Meeting.

Background Information

Grades 3-8 Testing Program: 2009-10 and 2010-11 Testing Calendar Update

In June 2009, the Board directed staff to move the Grades 3-8 Testing Program to the month of May beginning with the 2009-10 school year.  In July 2009, the Department issued the new calendar and revised grade-by-grade curriculum guidance to account for the math exams moving from March to May.  In October 2009, additional guidance regarding the scoring materials for English and the formula reference sheet for Math 7 were issued to the field.  The 3-8 ELA tests will be administered on April 26-28, 2010 and the 3-8 Math tests will be administered on May 5-7, 2010.  

The fact that Easter falls significantly later in April in 2011 than it does in 2010 complicated the testing schedule for the 2010-11 school year.  In 2010, Easter is on April 4, the first Sunday in the month. In 2011, Easter is on April 24, the last Sunday in the month.  School districts in various parts of the state take different vacations and for different durations: some school districts take vacation before and/or after Easter; and some school districts take vacations of two weeks in length, while others take vacations for one week. After extensive discussion with District Superintendents, superintendents, and NYCDOE, the Department has determined that we cannot start testing during the last week of April as some school districts will still be on vacation well into that week. Staff crafted the testing calendar to meet the needs of school districts while still ensuring that all schools will have enough time to score and administer the exams.  The 2011 testing calendar is attached for your information. 

Grades 3-8 Testing Program: Test Format Update

2009 - 2010 Testing Program

The Department is committed to strengthening the testing program for the 2009-2010 school year. The exams will be moved into late April/May to ensure that teachers have adequate time to teach the curriculum. The objectives that we wish to accomplish with these changes include: more complete measurement and coverage of the New York State Learning Standards; increased rigor to support the move towards higher standards for our students; more reliable results; and the ability to evaluate New York’s achievement to the nation as a whole.

The math exams will move from March to May and will expand to cover performance indicators that: 1) have not been tested before; or 2) have not been tested within the past two years. Over the span of the 6 grades tested, on average, a minimum of approximately 25% of the questions on the 2010 math exams will cover performance indicators that were not covered by the questions on the 2009 Tests. The number of actual test questions will remain the same.

The English exams will move from January to late April/May; they will continue to use the same format and same number of questions as exams in previous years. The Department uses authentic literature and non-fiction passages on these assessments; we will continue to use high quality reading passages, both prose and poetry, to evaluate students’ reading skills.

The Board has directed that the exams be reviewed and that new performance level cut scores be determined to increase the rigor of the Testing Program. The Department’s research staff is working with CTB/McGraw Hill on technical documentation to implement this directive. The Department is also working with CTB/McGraw Hill on the design and implementation of a Secure Anchor/Audit Testing Function for April/May 2010 exams. This anchor/audit function will complement the publicly released test forms and provide the Department with the capability to: verify the test equating results; and to compare New York standards and student achievement to the nation as a whole.

2010 - 2011 Testing Program

For the 2011 Testing Program, there will be three additional changes to the Testing Program: based upon a four year research study, the Department will design and implement a vertical scale; to ensure that the exams have appropriate depth and breadth, there will be an increase of approximately 11-15 multiple-choice items for the English exams and 15 multiple-choice items for math exams (both subjects will have open-ended items); and the Department will secure the multiple-choice section of the exams and release a limited number of items after their administration. The increase in items will allow the Department to test more performance indicators and enable the program to utilize a vertical scale to help strengthen analysis of student, school, and district performance. A vertical scale allows student progress to be tracked from grade-to-grade to determine the amount of growth each student made in a school year.







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