New York Changes Minimum Scores for “Knowledge” of English and Math Tests (Update)

Note. This story has been updated with clarifications from the New York State Department of Education.

New York State is changing the minimum scores required to be considered a state math and English language (ELA) proficient after lower scores were recorded last year.

The Times Union reports that the evaluation committee, which reports to the Board of Trustees, said on Monday that the new performance standards will be set after last year’s tests for students in grades 3-8 showed no improvement from pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, 45.4% of students in the state were proficient in ELA and 46.7% in math; in 2022, 46.6% demonstrated proficiency in ELA, which is a slight increase, while only 38.6% were proficient in math.

In Central New York, math proficiency dropped in 128 out of 162 schools, and ELA scores fell in more than half. English proficiency dropped by 20% or more in three schools, and math proficiency dropped by the same amount in 11 schools.

Educators have seen a similar drop in test scores in the US after Covid forced most students to study at home or elsewhere from 2020 to 2021; New York was one of the latest states to remove the mandatory wearing of masks in schools in March 2022. 8th grade math grades have fallen in almost every state, while there has been no measurable improvement in reading skills in any state.

Update: A spokesman for the New York State Department of Education said that reports of a reduction in the minimum score for student proficiency “simply do not correspond to reality.”

“No decisions have been made on student proficiency in the English language and math tests that will take place in the spring of 2023,” the spokesperson said. “These are new tests that will measure the newly introduced next generation learning standards. As announced at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, this summer a representative group of New York State teachers involved in the standard-setting process will recommend achievement requirements for each level of achievement. This industry-standard, research-based methodology will determine what level of knowledge and skill is required by the learning standards and how that level is displayed on the test.”

The Counting Board will take the results of the most recent tests into account and reset the scores as they set new performance standards for math and English tests in 2023.

“Yes, there are learning losses between 2019 and 2022, but in a way we don’t want to keep going backwards,” Marianne Peri, co-chair of the Technical Advisory Committee, told Times Union. “We are in this new normal. So for New York, we say the new baseline is 2022.”

The Albany newspaper reports that the committee plans to make similar changes to the U.S. History Regents exam, which will take effect in 2024.

Which CNY schools saw the biggest drop in math and ELA test scores during the pandemic? (Look for yours)

See the CNY Schools with the Biggest Improvements in Math and ELA Test Scores During the Pandemic

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