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NYC DOE Parent Guide to NYS Tests
March 28, 2014

Today, the DOE published a memo to Parents. It can be found on the DOE website, and I expect that it will be sent home with students. 

No information is new, but it's good to have it all documented in a single, OFFICIAL memo. If you read the language carefully, you'll find NO real reason NOT to opt-out of the State tests (unless your child is in 4th or 7th grade and is interested in some, but not not all, of the selective middle or high schools). 

Below are key excerpts. I've added CAPS to emphasize important points.

How are test results used?

... ALONG WITH student work on classroom assignments, projects, essays, and assessments, State test results give teachers important information about where students are on their path towards college and careers.

... The State uses test results to evaluate schools as required by State and federal accountability rules. In accordance with State regulations, New York City will begin using test scores AS PART OF teachers’ evaluations beginning this school year.

Is there a provision for parents to opt their children out of State tests or request an alternative evaluation?

... there is NO PROVISION in the State statute or regulation...

What should a principal do if parents express an interest in opting their children out of the State exams?

...The principal should respect the parents' decision and let them know that the school will work to the best of their ability to provide the child with an ALTERNATE EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY (e.g., reading) during testing times.

Are parents required to use specific language when opting out of the State tests?

... there is NO FORMAL PROVISION allowing parents to opt their children out of State tests...

What happens during test administration if a student is absent?

...if a student is also absent during the make-up period, the student will NOT BE TESTED.

What happens during test administration if a student refuses to take a State exam?

... the school will make every effort to arrange for ANOTHER INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITY, such as reading or completing another project or assignment.

What happens after test administration if a student refuses to participate in State testing?

For promotion decisions: PROMOTION PORTFOLIO ASSESSMENTS will be prepared based on specified exercises that assess students’ proficiency....

For enrollment decisions: ... Students without test scores CAN STILL APPLY TO [SELECTIVE] PROGRAMS, but they MAY BE at a disadvantage because their applications won’t have as much information as those of their peers.  

For State and federal school accountability:  ... if less than 95% of a school’s students ...  take the math or ELA assessments...  has impacts on a school’s state and federal accountability status that MAY affect its level of support and intervention. ...

How will this year’s State test results impact teacher and principal ratings and NYCDOE school accountability?

In accordance with State law, beginning this school year, student performance on the 3–8 ELA and math State tests is one of MULTIPLE MEASURES that will be included in teachers’ and principals’ overall ratings... 

Here is the link to the full DOE memo: 

Student Participation in Grades 3-8 New York State Tests
Parent Guide