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Frequently asked questions about the 2017 state exams for students in grades 3-8


Q: Have there been changes to the exams to help students succeed?

There have been a number of changes enacted over the past two years to support students in completing the exams to the best of their ability:


Untimed testing

The 2017 ELA and math tests again will be untimed so students who need more time to demonstrate what they know and can do will be able to work at their own pace within the confines of the regular school day. The 2016 tests also were untimed.


Fewer test questions

The number of test questions on the 2017 tests will be the same as the 2016 tests. Each ELA test in 2016 had one less reading passage and fewer questions than tests from previous years. The 2016 math tests also had fewer questions. That will continue in 2017 for both tests.

Expansion of testing accommodations for students with disabilities

When test items are to be read as a result of a testing accommodation, the entire test must be read including reading passages, questions, multiple-choice items, etc. Such content may be re-read more than once as specified by the individual student’s IEP or 504 Plan.


Q: 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, serve as a tool for measuring the degree to which students are on track to graduate high school college- and career-ready, and help shape future instruction. 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 toward college and careers.


Q: Are there resources for parents and guardians to help students get ready to do their best on the state exams?

Yes. The State Education Department provides helpful information and resources for families, including a series of vidoes regarding the state exams and Common Core Learning Standards.


Q: Are the state exam results linked to teachers’ performance evaluation?

No. The State Education commissioner temporarily has postponed the use of the grade 3-8 exam results in teachers’ ratings as part of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). However, the district still is required to calculate a transitional teacher rating using the state test results.


Q: What do the regulations say about a parent’s right to “opt out” of state tests?

School district officials are bound by an oath of office to comply with all state regulations, including testing requirements. Neither the law nor the State Education commissioner's regulations provide any legal right or method for students to "opt out" of the mandated assessments. New York does not have a statutory opt-out provision and state regulations do not permit opting out except under specific exceptions, such as those involving students with disabilities.


Q: What are the potential consequences for not taking the state exams?

State accountability mandates require each school district to have a participation rate of at least 95 percent on the state assessments in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act. If less than 95 percent of a school’s students or one or more of its subgroups of students (e.g., less than 95 percent of black students, students with disabilities, etc.) take the math or ELA assessments, the school is designated having failed to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) for that school year. This leads to the following:

  • After three years of missing AYP for the same subgroup, a school can be identified as a Local Assistance Plan (LAP) school. LAP schools are not considered “in good standing” and are generally subject to additional reporting and self-review requirements.

  • Existing Priority and Focus schools (schools that are identified as the lowest-performing by the state) – Those Priority and Focus schools that do not make the AYP participation target cannot be removed from this negative status.

  • Schools that do not meet the participation rate criteria are not eligible to be considered for “Reward school” status, which highlights schools identified as demonstrating high performance or high progress relative to other schools in the state.

Q: What is the process for parents and guardians who choose not to have their child take the state exams?

If parents choose not to allow their child to take the mandated assessments, the parent must provide a written request to their school principal indicating their decision not to have their child take the state exams.


Q: How will principals respond if parents and guardians choose not to have their child take the state exams?

To preserve the integrity of the testing environment, principals will relocate students to another room during the duration of the exams.

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