Letter from Dr. Harper Regarding 3-8 Assessments

February 28, 2017

Dear Parent/Guardian,

This is the second year that our students will be taking the revised NYS assessments for grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. The New York State assessments for grades 3-8 embed the NYS learning standards. These exams provide our students the opportunity to demonstrate and apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem solving.

While no single exam provides a complete picture of student achievement, when combined with grades and teacher reports, annual assessments provide vital information about a student’s progress. These exams give us an objective measurement of how your child, your school, and your district are doing compared to others across the state. Additionally, these exams help identify strengths and weaknesses of students that guide and align instructional interventions that supports the needs of students to be successful.

With the help of New York State educators, the State Education Department has worked hard to ensure that these exams provide a fair and accurate assessment of every student’s proficiency level. All exam questions have undergone an extensive review process that includes feedback from hundreds of New York State teachers from across the state.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has demonstrated a commitment to improving New York’s assessment program and making our exams as short and effective as possible. Last year, she secured a contract with a new examination company that included nearly double the number of New York State teachers in developing the assessments. This year, the ELA and math exams will continue to have fewer questions for all grades. The exams are also untimed to reduce the anxiety for your child.

The State law and Commissioner’s regulations prohibit school districts from making promotion or placement decisions based solely or primarily on student performance on the Grades 3-8 ELA and Math assessments. In addition, school districts cannot include the results of the Grades 3-8 ELA and Math exams on students’ official transcripts or permanent records until December 31, 2018.

Our responsibility is to make sure your child is successful, and annual assessments are the tool we use to measure our mutual success. Last year, we held public forums to explain the importance of these assessments, and address any questions or concerns you may have. Information about this year’s forums will be forthcoming from your child’s school principal.

Please feel free to reach out to me or your child’s principal or teacher with any questions you have. There are also extensive resources for parents available online at www.EngageNY.org and www.nysed.gov.

Thank you,

Dr. Stanley Harper