This week, the New York State Department of Education released the results of last year’s NYS Grades 3-8 Assessment Data. At first glance, it would appear that our student test results improved in every category in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments. However, due to the State’s new two-session test design and performance standards, the 2018 Grades 3-8 ELA and math results cannot be compared with prior-year results. The new baseline established this year will enable comparisons with student scores in 2019 and 2020.
I have often cautioned against an over-reliance on student assessment data. Just last week, I published a blog post that suggested that educational systems that rely solely on student achievement data on high-stakes tests to determine educational outcomes place students at risk. Beyond this, data can and should be used to understand how the organization is performing. Testing, from the perspective of organizational accountability (without being punitive), can provide useful information on how we can improve. For example, it is helpful to know that our school district consistently outperforms the NYS state averages in all testing categories in grades three through eight. That is a good starting point for our analysis and permits us to do a more in-depth analysis of our efforts for continuous improvement. These tests measure the higher learning standards that were adopted by the State Board of Regents in 2010, which more accurately reflect students’ progress toward college and career readiness.
If you would like to gain additional insight into our school district and other school districts across New York, please visit the New York State Education Department website. Here, data are available statewide and at the county, district, and school level. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is committed to making data available and easy to use.