Letter from Superintendent Mundell on New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math Tests

Dear BKW Parent/Guardian,

In a few weeks, the New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests will be administered to students. Beginning this year, the number of test sessions for these annual assessments will be reduced from three days to two days. Additionally, like the 2016 and 2017 tests, the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests will continue to be untimed, allowing students adequate time to complete the tests without stress or anxiety.

The ELA will be given on two consecutive school days between April 11 – April 13, and the math on two consecutive school days between May 1 – May 3.

Over the past several years, parents have allowed students to refuse taking the NYS 3-8 assessments. This movement was evident all across NYS. Many parents were responding this way to voice opposition to the haphazard way the Common Core curriculum and assessments were rolled out. Over the past two years, under the leadership of Commissioner Elia, the State Education Department (SED) has made significant changes to the conditions of testing and the tests themselves. These changes are summarized for you here.

Below you will find a summary of the changes that were made to the 2018 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests.

  • Two testing days per subject. The 2018 Grades 3–8 ELA and Math Tests have been reduced from three test sessions per subject to only two sessions per subject this year, meaning each subject will have two days of testing instead of three. With fewer test sessions, each test will have fewer questions than in recent years, lessening test fatigue for students and better enabling them to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.
  • The tests continue to be untimed so students who are still working on their exams will be allowed to continue to work, within the confines of the regular school day. Students who finish may be permitted to hand in their test materials (or submit the test if testing on computer) and leave the room. If so, students should exit quietly so they do not disturb any students still working.
  • Test questions reviewed and written by New York State Teachers. Hundreds of New York State educators were involved in creating and reviewing questions for 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests and selecting the questions for the test forms. This year, the assessments will also feature many test questions written by New York State teachers specifically for the annual New York State tests. The future goal is for all test questions to be written by NYS educators.

Teacher and Principal Evaluation/APPR

  • Student performance on the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Mathematics Tests will have no employment-related consequences for teacher and principal evaluations. In December 2015, the Board of Regents approved a moratorium on using student scores on these exams for educators’ consequential evaluation scores. This means no teachers or principals in New York State public schools will be affected by the results of the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests.

Release of Test Questions and Instructional Reports

  • Test questions and instructional reports will be released before the end of the school year. Like last year, the SED will release 75-percent of questions from the 2018 tests and the instructional reports for educators on or around June 1. You can view 2017 test questions on EngageNY.

Computer-Based Testing

  • Computer-based State assessments. Some districts chose to administer the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests on the computer. The computer-based test will have the same questions as the paper version but students will take the test on a computer, tablet, or Chromebook.
  • Stronger instructional tools. The SED is helping districts begin to transition to computer-based testing (CBT), which has the potential to make the assessments stronger instructional tools and will make it possible to get test results back sooner.
  • The move to CBT. The State plans to have additional districts utilize CBT next year. The long-term plan is to have all districts using CBT for annual state tests.

The opportunity to be a part of the work that has resulted in changes that allow us to gather data about student ability and growth, while also providing us more opportunity to educate the whole child in a much broader way than was possible previously, is a constructive turn of events that allows for partnership between the local districts and the SED. Therefore, I am strongly encouraging parents to expect their child to participate in the assessment process. Over the past few years, BKW has had a fairly high level of test refusals. By changing this pattern, it will be possible for our students to demonstrate their competency. This effort on your part to support student participation will reflect the partnership between home and school, similar to the one between SED and the District.

I have every confidence in our students and staff. They all work very diligently every day. Your support in this effort to have all students participating in the assessment process is greatly appreciated. Should you have questions about the schedule or process, please contact the Principal of your building. 


Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools