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Testing in New York: An Overview

A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests

By GreatSchools Staff

Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2009-2010 New York used the New York State Assessments to test students in grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and math, in grades 4 and 8 in science, and in grades 5 and 8 in social studies. The assessments are standards-based tests that measure how well students are meeting the state's grade-level expectations.

High school students take a series of subject-specific Regents examinations. Students must pass at least five tests in the following subject areas in order to graduate: English, mathematics, global history and geography, US history and government, and science (living environment, chemistry, earth science or physics). Additional tests are given in Spanish, French, Hebrew, Latin, German and Italian.

How are the tests scored?

New York State Assessment results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Students receive a score of level 1 through level 4. The goal is for 90% of students to score at or above level 3 (proficient) on the tests.

The Regents examinations are scored on a 100-point scale. Scores of 65 and above are passing; scores of 55 and above earn credit toward a local diploma (with the approval of the local board of education). Students can also receive a Regents diploma with Advanced Designation by passing eight Regents examinations with a score of 65 or above. The goal is for all students to pass the tests.

Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?

Although New York State Assessments cover a variety of subjects, only the results for English language arts and math are included on GreatSchools profiles. For each subject, the combined percentage of students scoring at or above level 3 is displayed.

The New York State Regents Exam results for English, math, living environment, chemistry, earth science and physics are displayed on GreatSchools profiles. For each subject, the percentage of students scoring 65 and above is displayed. The results reflect the performance of all students taking the spring administration of the test, regardless of their grade level.

Why do the tests matter?

New York test results provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards, and some districts may use test results as a means of determining promotion from one grade to the next. Furthermore, students are required to pass at least five Regents examinations to receive a high school diploma.

New York uses the test results to evaluate schools and to determine each school's accountability status. If a school does not meet standards, specific improvement goals are given and the school must work with its district to develop plans to improve test results. Schools that meet or exceed standards are considered for state achievement awards.

It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for his school. If your child scores below the standards, contact his teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home. If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you as a parent can do to help.

A few parting words

Test results don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school, although they can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.

Search for New York Schools.

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