FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Education Department Releases Highest Ever Percentage of Questions from 2016 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests
Releasing 75-percent of Questions Provides Educators and Parents
More Information about the Tests than Ever Before
Grades 3-8 Instructional Reports Will be Available to Schools by End of Week
The State Education Department today announced that 75 percent of questions from the 2016 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests that count toward student scores are now posted online at EngageNY.org. This is more questions than ever before, and the first time this information has been available this soon. By the end of the week, several instructional reports based on the 2016 tests will be made available to districts and schools several weeks before the end of the school year. Also new this year, educators and parents will be able to review their students’ answers to constructed-response questions, giving them an even clearer picture of how well students are doing.
“I’ve always said that assessments must be diagnostic, valid, reliable, and provide timely and practical information to teachers, parents, administrators and students,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “The early release of a greater percentage of test questions improves the overall usefulness of these assessments as learning tools – which has always been the goal.”
“Our goal is to provide our teachers, administrators and parents with as much information as possible about their students’ performance and make it available as quickly as possible,” State Educator Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “I heard from many educators that the earlier they receive the data, the better. That’s why we moved up the release timeline so the materials would be ready for educators before the end of the school year. And we were able to release more questions than ever before thanks to $8.4 million from the Legislature.”
Released Test Questions
The State Education Department released 75 percent of the 2016 Grades 3-8 ELA and math test questions that counted toward student scores. Each released multiple-choice question includes the question itself and an item map that provides the answer key and the standard(s) measured by the question. Each released constructed-response (open-ended) question includes the question itself and an item map that provides the standard(s) measured by the question.
For the first time ever, the State Education Department released 100 percent of the constructed-response questions from the Grade 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests, as well as the scoring materials used by educators to score student responses to these questions. The questions are posted on EngageNY.org.
This year, the State Education Department authorized the release of instructional reports for the 2016 Grades 3-8 ELA and math on June 3, 2016. This is the earliest these reports will ever be released, and the first time they will be released during the same school year in which the tests were administered, allowing schools and districts more time to use this information for summer curriculum writing and professional development activities. Schools may access their district’s instructional reports through the Regional Information Centers (RIC) and/or Big 5 city school district data centers.
The instructional reports show educators how each student performed on every question that contributed to his or her score. As with those from past years, the 2016 instructional reports for ELA and math are based on raw scores only, which are not comparable year over year. Scale scores and performance levels will be available when the statewide results are released later this summer.
For the first time, educators and parents this year will have the opportunity to review student answers to the constructed-response questions from the 2016 tests, giving them additional information about student performance. The State Education Department is providing guidance for districts on how to implement this review so student privacy is protected and the integrity of the students’ responses is preserved. However, districts will use local discretion to develop their own procedures for reviewing the data.
The guidance is outlined in a memo from Commissioner Elia. The memo also includes more information about the released test questions and instructional reports. To view the memo and the released questions, visit: https://www.engageny.org/resource/released-2016-3-8-ela-and-mathematics-state-test-questions. For a summary of the instructional reports made available by the RICs, see http://boces.org/Portals/0/Web%20Docs/RIC%20Reports/3-8%20Common%20Data%20Views%20May%2016.pdf
 The New York City Department of Education and the Yonkers City school district serve as their own Level 1 data center and will have different reporting solutions and time lines.
 Because each year’s test includes different questions, it is likely that the questions are, on average, slightly easier or slightly more difficult than was the prior year’s test. To ensure that test scores are comparable given these slight year-to-year differences, a standard statistical process called equating is employed. Equating adjusts slightly the number of raw score points (i.e., questions answered correctly) needed to achieve a certain scale score and performance standard, relative to the small difference in difficulty of the current year's test. For example, if the current year’s test is slightly easier than was the prior year test, the number of raw score points necessary to achieve a given performance standard will increase slightly. If the current year’s test is slightly harder than was the prior year test, the number of raw score points necessary to achieve a given performance standard will decrease slightly.
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