State 3-8 exams coming up this spring

Student smiling and working on a computer

Every spring, all school districts in New York administer the state’s English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics exams to students in grades 3-8. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires that school districts administer these tests.

This year’s ELA exam is coming up in April after our spring break; the math exam will follow in early May.

What the tests measure

The tests are designed to measure how well students are mastering learning standards that guide classroom instruction. They help ensure that students are on track to graduate from high school with the critical-thinking, problem-solving and reasoning skills needed for success in college and the modern workplace. The tests also show how schools and districts are progressing with the learning standards.

These exams also inform parents, guardians and teachers about students’ progress compared to other students across the state. 

Annual assessments also are used to help ensure that traditionally underserved students – students of color, students receiving Special Education or English as a New Language services, or students from low-income communities – are not overlooked.

Finally, school leaders and leadership teams use the data to make academic and budgetary decisions in order to further improve the delivery of quality instruction and the allocation of resources directly impacting student achievement and success.

Dates and method

The State Education Department identified a plan last year for full implementation of computer-based testing (CBT) for all students statewide in grades 3-8 by the 2025-26 school year. The state’s transition to CBT is part of its commitment to both meeting the needs of 21st-century learners and improving test delivery, test integrity, scoring validity and turn-around time on testing results. 

The state’s formal transition to computer-based testing will begin in the spring of 2024, when all students statewide in grades 5 and 8 will be required to take ELA, math and science tests via CBT. The state’s plan calls for phased, mandated participation for all students in grades 3-8 by 2025-26.

This spring, as part of that phased transition several City School District of Albany schools will administer the ELA exam via CBT for students in grades 4 and 7:

Grade 4

  • Albany International Center
  • Delaware Community School
  • Eagle Point Elementary School
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School
  • Montessori Magnet School
  • New Scotland Elementary School
  • Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy
  • Pine Hills Elementary School
  • Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology

Grade 7

  • Albany International Center
  • William S. Hackett Middle School  

All other buildings and grades will continue to administer the ELA exam via the traditional paper-based testing (PBT) model this school year. For the math and science exams later in the spring, all students in all of our schools will participate in paper-based testing.

Below is a table of testing window dates. Schools administering via CBT will choose specific dates within the window for administration; watch for information about specific testing dates from your schools. Schools with paper-based testing will administer the respective exam on the first two days in the testing window.

Operational Test Grade(s) Administration dates Make-up dates
ELA (paper-based) 3-8 April 19-20 April 24-28
ELA (computer-based) 4 and 7
(see list above)
April 19-26 April 24-28
Math (paper-based) 3-8 May 2-3 May 5-11
Science (paper-based) 8 June 5 June 6-9

Before the tests

Please make sure your student gets plenty of rest in the days leading up to the tests, and that they have a good breakfast so they are ready to do their best.

Students who choose not to take state tests

We strongly encourage all students to participate in the state 3-8 exams and will provide whatever support is needed to ensure their success. The data from these exams is one metric we use to help strengthen our instructional program. 

In response to concerns shared by educators and families, the following changes have been made to the ELA and math exams in recent years:

  • Administration has been shortened from three days to two  
  • Exams are untimed
  • Questions are written by educators
  • Teacher and principal evaluation (APPR) are no longer linked to results

While there are no consequences for a child who does not participate in a state assessment, school or district accountability status may be impacted by the lack of participation.

However, if parents or guardians choose not to allow their child to take a state exam, they must provide a written request to their principal indicating their decision not to have their child take the exam. 

Parents or guardians wishing to submit such a letter should provide that to their principal by the last school day of the week prior to an exam:

  • ELA – Thursday, April 6
  • Math – Friday, April 28
  • Science Written – Friday, June 3

The letter should indicate which test or tests their student will not be taking, along with a phone number where the parent or guardian can be reached. This notification will allow schools to be prepared with appropriate accommodations for students who will not be taking a state exam. 

At the elementary level, our buildings will identify a room or rooms where these students can quietly read while testing students remain in their classrooms. Students who are not testing will return to their classrooms when the test session is done and resume normal instruction.

At the middle level, students not taking a state exam will remain in the testing room with their peers. Teachers will provide assignments for those students not taking an exam. 

Additional resources

For more information about the state exams, please review the resources below: