Mohonasen students take a number of tests and exams every year – including local exams and assessments, New York State tests, Regents exams and AP exams.
Throughout the school year, students are given opportunities to become familiar with the format of most of these tests. However, the school year is not spent drilling for these exams. Instead, the primary focus is on expanding children’s knowledge in many subject areas and disciplines such as listening, reading, writing and math — encouraging them to reason better and become critical thinkers.
In recent years, there has been considerable controversy surrounding state tests and testing in general. Parents have questioned whether the length of state tests and the questions themselves were developmentally appropriate.
This public outcry prompted the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to initiate changes in state tests, starting with those administered in April 2016. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia called for shortened state assessments in English language arts (ELA) and math for students in grades 3-8. State Ed has also moved away from Pearson, the London-based testing company that has created NYS tests for five years, and awarded a five-year contract to Questar Assessment, a smaller company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With the Questar contract, which began in the 2016-17 school year, the state has started to move from paper to computer-based tests. (Download fact sheet on Changes ahead for Grades 3-8 NYS exams in ELA and math.)
Elia also indicated she was committed to increasing teacher involvement in developing and reviewing state tests.
NYSED offers the following resources for parents:
Here’s what in store for Mohonasen students:
Local skill reviews (Bradt): Students in grades K-2 participate in “skill reviews” throughout the school year. These are a careful look at where a child is with regard to learning content in a particular subject area. These skill reviews are not state mandated nor are they connected to teacher evaluations. They are developed by Mohonasen administrators and teachers for the purpose of continually improving and tailoring our instruction so that every child will learn and be challenged at a developmentally appropriate level.
The information gathered from such a review helps a classroom teacher understand what a child has or has not learned of the material presented up to that point. By gauging where students are, a teacher is able to tweak instruction for the entire class and/or for individual students. A teacher also learns valuable insight on how to best present instruction to ensure that children are being supported and challenged at the level at which they are learning.
New York State Tests (grades 3-8): Each year, districts are required to administer tests – also called assessments – in English language arts (ELA) and math to students in grades 3-8. Fourth- and eighth-graders also take state exams in science and social studies.
Testing in English language arts — which includes reading, writing and listening skills — and math for each of the elementary grades is designed to show whether children have a firm grasp on the skills they will need to succeed as they move toward middle school, high school and beyond. These tests also help teachers identify where the curriculum might need to be fine-tuned to better meet students’ needs.
New York State Science Performance Test and Science Written section: Students in grades 4 and 8 take state science tests to determine student progress toward New York State standards in science.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (grade 4): Pinewood School 4th grade students will participate in the NAEP on March 9, 2017. This is not an annual test for Mohonasen students. The NAEP represents the largest national assessment of what students know and can do in various subjects, including arts, math, reading and writing. Every two years, U.S. students in grades 4, 8 and 12 take part in NAEP assessments, which are administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, under the U.S. Department of Education.
The NAEP is different from our state assessment because it provides a common measure of student achievement across the country. NAEP reports results by demographic group, not by individual students, classrooms or schools. The Nation’s Report Card, which provides information about student achievement to educators, parents, policymakers, and the public, is compiled from NAEP results. That report is used to inform policy decisions to improve education in our country.
New York State Regents Exams (high school): Regents exams are standardized examinations in core high school subjects given to students in New York state. Students are required to pass a minimum of five New York State Regents Exams to graduate (in addition to class credit requirements). There are additional courses and exam requirements for an Advanced Regents Diploma. For more information, please visit High School Graduation Requirements.
Advanced Placement exams (high school): Advanced Placement (AP) exams are administered as the culmination of a year-long Advanced Placement Course. AP exams are taken in May of the year students take the course. They are graded on a scale of 1–5, and most colleges require a minimum of a 3 on the exam to award college credit. The exams cost approximately $90.
Classroom tests: Students take tests at various times from grade 3 through high school to assess where a student is with regard to learning content in a particular subject area. Like the Bradt assessments, the information gathered from such a review helps a classroom teacher understand what a student has or has not learned of the material presented up to that point. Results can be used to provide extra support to a student or to tweak lessons.
Helping your child with testing: It’s normal for students to feel a certain level of anxiety around any exams. Leading up to the tests, parents should do what they have always done: Encourage your children to stay calm, take their time, review their work carefully, and do their best. Just as with anything students do in school, these exams are important and everyone at Mohonasen wants students to take pride in their performance.
For help interpreting test results and access to resources designed to build understanding of the New York State education reform initiatives, visit engageny.org.
The following video created by Capital Region BOCES explains the role of assessments in education: