SED releases 2017 NYS ELA/math test scores

Background

On Aug. 22, 2017, the New York State Education Department (SED) released district and school results for the 2017 NYS ELA/math tests.
As in the past, students’ scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1-4 meant to indicate their degree of proficiency in the Common Core standards for the grade level. Scores at levels 3-4 indicate proficiency (4 means that a student excels in the standards), while levels 1-2 indicate a student is below proficiency.

Summary of Results

For ELA, the statewide percentage of test-takers scoring at proficient levels (3 and 4) in 2017 increased by 1.9 percentage points to 39.8 percent, up from 37.9 percent in 2016.

For math, the statewide percentage of test-takers scoring at proficient levels (3 and 4) in 2017 increased by 1.1 percentage point to 40.2 percent, up from 39.1 percent in 2016.

Grades 7 and 8 saw the biggest change in student proficiency on the ELA this year, with Grade 7 proficiency increasing by 6.4 percentage points to 41.9 percent and Grade 8 proficiency increasing by 4.6 percentage points to 45.5 percent.

In grade 6, ELA proficiency dropped from 34.4 percent in 2016 to 32.4 percent in 2017. All other grades saw increases in proficiency.
Overall, black students had a 2.8 percentage point increase in those achieving proficiency in ELA, while Hispanic students had a 2.4 percentage point increase. In both cases, the increases were greater than those seen by white students, who had a 1.1 percentage point increase statewide. As a result, the achievement gap in ELA that separates the proficiency of black and Hispanic students from their white peers closed slightly statewide.

A U.S. Education Department waiver eliminated unnecessary double testing by allowing accelerated math students to participate in high school math Regents exams instead of the grade 8 math test. For some schools, this change may have resulted in a decrease in the total percentage of students scoring proficient in grade 8 math – not because students’ actual proficiency decreased but because the total testing pool for grade 8 math was smaller.

While the statewide percentage of test-takers scoring at proficient levels (3 and 4) in math increased, there was an average 1.4 percentage point decrease in proficiency in grades 4, 6 and 8 compared to 2016 (see chart below for percentage point decreases).

Additional Takeaways

The 2017 tests are comparable to the previous year’s tests. This is more of an “apples-to-apples” comparison because no significant changes were made to the assessments from last year.

Overall, students scoring at the proficiency level increased statewide. Grades 7 and 8 saw the biggest improvement in student proficiency on the ELA this year, with Grade 7 proficiency increasing by 6.4 percentage points to a total of 41.9 percent of students scoring in the proficiency range, and Grade 8 proficiency increasing by 4.6 percentage points to 45.5 percent of students scoring in the proficiency range.

Test Refusals

According to SED, the test refusal rate statewide for 2017 was approximately 19 percent, which was a decrease of two percentage points from last year.

According to state data, students who refused the test in 2017 were much more likely to be from low-need or average-need districts; much more likely to be white; less likely to be economically disadvantaged; and much less likely to be an English Language Learner.

A district-by-district breakdown of the total number of students who opted out is available as an Excel spread sheet here.

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