Test data to be released by state July 1

Results from this year’s state English Language Arts and math tests will be released earlier than no
Teachers grade tests at the Capital Region BOCES in Colonie Friday, April 24, 2015.
Teachers grade tests at the Capital Region BOCES in Colonie Friday, April 24, 2015.

General results from this year’s state English Language Arts and math tests will be released earlier than normal, state officials announced Thursday.

Results will be given to school districts July 1, rather than later in the summer.

Some teachers and parents involved in this year’s massive opt-out movement had criticized the long wait time for results, saying teachers should get the results quickly so they can adjust instruction.

Last year, districts received results July 23, about a month after students moved to the next grade. The earlier release this year still will come after students have moved up.

New York State United Teachers was openly critical of the announcement.

“In order for a test to be useful to teachers, the results should come back immediately,” said union spokesman Carl Korn, “while the student is still in front of that teacher, so the teacher can use it to help that student.”

State officials said the tests should be used to help teachers improve for the following year’s students.

“The early release of these reports will give districts the time they need to adjust curriculum and focus on improving learning outcomes for students in the upcoming year,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

Teachers could use the summer to take professional development classes in weak areas or write new lesson plans, state officials said.

“For example, if a class had difficulty with questions that measure addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators, the teacher can adjust instruction next year to strengthen students’ understanding of this topic,” a news release about the announcement said.

Teachers could also use the results to prepare for students who took the tests, said state Education Department spokeswoman Jeanne Beattie.

“The teachers in the next grade can look at these reports and say, ‘OK, this is what we have to expect with these kids,’ ” she said.

Currently, school districts have about two weeks to grade the written portion of the English Language Arts test and scan in every test for grading. The results are then scored and analyzed for weaknesses by student, classroom, district and region.

The results might get back to teachers faster in future years.

“We’ve heard from districts that this is very useful to them,” Beattie said. “We’ll continue to explore ways to get data back to schools as early as possible.”

The results released July 1 will not include the students’ actual scores — they are rated from 1 to 4 — because those results are not released until state officials decide how to scale the results. Teachers will be able to see how each student responded to each question, but they won’t be able to see all of the questions, just the Common Core curriculum topics tested by each question.

About half of the questions will be released to teachers, the state said. Korn said that makes the results less useful. For a teacher to diagnose a student’s weaknesses, he said, the teacher must see the question. If the question that tripped up a student isn’t released, he said, teachers will struggle to figure out why.

“You can’t see the question to see why they missed it,” he said. “Was it the way they worded it? Was it [that] the kid had to subtract and divide, and that’s why they missed it?”

State officials asked the Legislature for more funding this year to produce more test questions so they could release all of them every year. The request was not funded, so they must reuse some questions each year and thus can’t release them, they said.

NYSUT supported the Education Department’s request for more funding so every question could be released.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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