Read the full report here.
Many New York educators seek greater transparency with respect to the creation and analysis of the state’s new English language arts (ELA) and math assessments that are aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). As professionals with deep school-based expertise around the CCLS, teachers and principals can provide meaningful feedback about exam content, administration, and application that could – and we believe should – be leveraged by the State Education Department.
In August 2015, 38 New York Educator Voice Fellows analyzed questions released from the 2015 New York State Testing Program Grades 3-8 and High School Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics tests. These teachers and principals evaluated the content of the assessments, whether the tests accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness, and whether they provide valid data to inform teachers’ practice and student learning.
Overall, Fellows concluded that New York is moving in the right direction. In this report, Fellows share the findings and recommendations from their August 2015 analysis.
Key findings from the Fellows' analysis include:
- 50% of those who participated found the Common Core assessments to be of higher quality than pre-Common Core assessments, while only 5% of educators felt that the new assessments were of lower quality; 2
- Most Fellows believe that the ELA assessments measured student reading and writing achievement in both ELA and literacy, but the tests could better emphasize vocabulary and language skills;
- Most Fellows believe the math tests focused strongly on the content most needed for success in later mathematics, but could better assess the skills that students need to apply math to solve problems;
- Only 11% of Fellows reported that the assessments provide accessibility to all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities; and
- 95% of Fellows reported that professional development on how to use results from the state assessment to inform instruction would be useful.
Key recommendations to further improve the New York assessments include the following:
- Writers of the English language arts assessments design vocabulary questions that can be solved from context, consider adding speaking and listening components to the test, and reevaluate assessment length and time allotted;
- Writers of the mathematics assessments include items that better connect to the mathematical practice standards and a better balance of item types;
- Writers of the assessments make the tests more accessible to all learners, including students with disabilities and English language learners;
- The State Education Department provides more trainings that teach educators and parents how to access and interpret student data; and
- The State Education Department and writers of the assessments include educators in the test design and creation of items.