Full Board


Jean C. Stevens



Update on State Testing Program


October 11, 2006


Goals 1 and 2






Issue for Discussion


Does the Board of Regents require additional information on the State Testing Program?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Review of policy.

Proposed Handling


This question will come before the Full Board for discussion in October.


Procedural History


Not applicable.


Background Information


In the past year, the Office of Standards, Assessment and Reporting has implemented several new programs intended to ensure that New York State is in full compliance with the assessment and reporting requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and that all State assessments are valid and reliable, of high technical quality, and fair for all New York State students. The attached report describes the initiatives that have been implemented over the past year.




Staff recommend that the Regents review the attached update on the State Testing Program and determine whether additional information is needed.


Timetable for Implementation


Not applicable.








Grades 3-8 Testing Program


          The new Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests were first administered in January and March 2006, respectively. The Grades 3-8 ELA Test results were sent to schools on September 14, 2006 and the Commissioner held a press conference formally releasing the data on September 21, 2006. The Grades 3-8 Mathematics Test results will be sent to schools on September 28, 2006 and the Commissioner will hold a press conference formally releasing the data on October 11.


          We are meeting all target timeline dates as we work to finalize the 2007 Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests, and related scoring and administration materials. Test results for the 2007 Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests will be available to schools prior to the end of the school year. The Department continues to work with the test development vendor (CTB/McGraw-Hill) and the score reporting vendor (Grow Network) to coordinate a schedule that will enable us to achieve this goal. However, because 2007 tests must be equated to the 2006 tests, which requires careful research and analysis, the 2007 test data will not be available immediately following each test administration.


          For the 2006-07 school year, testing and scoring dates have been released to the field. The schedule is based on the timeframes used in 2005-06, because feedback from schools indicated that they were able to administer and score the tests within the time periods set by the Department. We will continue to work closely with the field to ensure that the testing dates and time allotments are sufficient.


During the 2003-04 school year, the Department introduced a new field test sampling method that employs a multi-year sampling matrix. This matrix assigns every elementary and intermediate school in New York State to one of ten strands. We are now in the second year of our five-year Grades 3-8 Field Test Matrix.


Field testing is a critical step in the test development process. In preparation for each examination, we ask a carefully selected number of schools to assist in the field testing or pretesting of questions for potential use on the examination. The results of student performance from the stratified sample of schools across the State help the Department in developing the best test items for the resulting operational tests that will be administered to all students. This validation of questions is an essential step in the development of valid and reliable assessments of student achievement. We depend on schools to participate in these activities so that we can gather essential data and maintain the policy of releasing examinations to the public after they have been administered. Use of the new matrix has helped to ensure the increased participation of schools. The matrix was used for the first time for the 2005 Grades 3-8 Field Tests, with 72% of public schools sampled participating in ELA and 70% participating in Mathematics. For the 2006 Grades 3-8 ELA Field Tests, the response rates rose to 82% for ELA and 73% for Mathematics.


          This fall, schools will be able to access more detailed testing data through nySTART. This tool will enable schools to analyze test results more quickly and effectively than in the past. Training for the nySTART system was held throughout summer 2006, and we envision that the BOCES and Regional Information Centers (RICs) will continue to offer training opportunities to assist school district administrators and teachers in working with the test data.


U.S. Department of Education – Peer Review


          NCLB requires that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) review and approve each state system of standards and assessments, including evidence of how the state has met the relevant NCLB requirements. To facilitate the peer review process, states must prepare and submit a report with accompanying documentation, which the Department did in January 2006. On June 27, 2006, USDOE notified the Department that it had concerns regarding the assessment in New York of ungraded students, the alternative assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities, and the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test.


·       New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT)


As a result of the peer review, USDOE notified the Department that NYSESLAT can no longer be used for Title I accountability purposes, except as described below for students newly arrived in the United States. USDOE determined that New York’s use of NYSESLAT for ELA accountability was not consistent with the requirements of NCLB and directed New York to come into compliance by the end of the 2006-07 school year. As a result, New York must administer its ELA assessment to LEP/ELL (limited English proficient/English language learner) students who, on January 3, 2007, have been enrolled in school in the United States (excluding Puerto Rico) for one year or more. All LEP/ELL students are still required to take the NYSESLAT to annually assess the student’s English proficiency, as required by Title III.


We are working closely with our NYSESLAT test development vendor, Harcourt Assessment, Inc., to establish a research plan for the next two years. We will use the results obtained from the LEP/ELL students taking both the NYSESLAT and the ELA tests to research other approaches to the testing of and accountability for these students.


          The Department accepted the invitation from USDOE to join the LEP/ELL Partnership, and is actively discussing with USDOE a research agenda to determine the feasibility of a combined Title I and Title III assessment for LEP/ELL students. A team from SED’s Office of State Assessment and Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Instructional Technology attended the August 28-29 meeting, and will attend the October 27-28 meeting of the Partnership. We will continue to work closely with USDOE in exploring the benefits and options presented through this partnership initiative and will seek options that will best serve and assess LEP/ELL students.  The Regents will continue to be advised of future USDOE initiatives and progress on these ongoing discussions. The Department will continue to collaborate with the LEP/ELL Statewide Committee of Practitioners for its professional input, recommendations, and advice on these critical matters.


·       New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA)


          Changes to NYSAA are required for the 2006-07 school year as a result of USDOE’s peer review of New York’s system of standards and assessments. To accomplish this, the Office of State Assessment took the lead on the 2006-07 NYSAA. VESID continues to work closely with the Office of State Assessment and the test development vendor, Measured Progress, to make these changes on tight timelines and to work toward a smooth transition of leadership from VESID to the Office of State Assessment.


Upcoming changes for the 2006-07 school year include the following:


·       There will be one test administration period from January 2, 2007 to March 9, 2007 for all subject areas (ELA, mathematics, science, and social studies).

·       Students eligible for the NYSAA must be assessed on appropriate grade-level content that is consistent with the student’s chronological age.

·       Previously, the elementary-level social studies component of the NYSAA was administered at the fourth-grade level. Beginning in 2006-07, social studies will be administered at the fifth grade level just as the general assessment is administered.

·       Data collection methods will be the same each year. There will be no differentiation between grades on how much data is collected.


In August and September, Department staff convened groups of external stakeholders (teachers and other experts in curriculum, assessment, and special education) to align the NYSAA ELA, mathematics, science, and social studies components with the core curricula for those subject areas. Manuals for administering the 2006-07 NYSAA for all content areas have been developed and will be finalized by the Department in October. These manuals will be used in training and administration of the revised NYSAA. Turnkey training sessions will be held from November 28 – December 1, 2006.


The Department will continue its ongoing collaboration with USDOE at each step in the process of revising NYSAA for 2006-07.


Regents Examinations


          The Department has awarded a contract for the development of the new mathematics Regents examinations to Riverside, Inc., and test development work on the new examinations has begun.


The June 2006 Regents examination schedule was designed using STEP data, which allowed the Department to minimize the number of instances in which a student might be expected to take two examinations required for a diploma on the same day. In particular, the schedule attempted to minimize such occurrences for students with disabilities, many of whom are allowed extended time for each test they take. A draft of the June 2007 Regents Examination schedule, which was modeled on the June 2006 schedule, was disseminated to the field for input in September. All feedback will be carefully considered, and we expect to issue a final schedule by late fall.