Government News

HANY MEMO: NYS Test Participation Update

TO:                 Interested Parties

FROM:            High Achievement New York

RE:                  New York State Participation Rates – 3-8 Grade ELA      Assessments 2018

DATE:            4/13/2018

The following memo details some key findings regarding participation rates for this year’s English Language Arts (ELA) 3-8 grade testing. While the results are still preliminary and only represent paper test participation, the conclusion is clear: more parents and students are saying Yes to the Test – a major win for families and schools across the state.

The state shows a continued statewide trend of decreasing opt-out rates. While initial data from Long Island indicates that opt outs were flat from 2017, over 90% of districts in Westchester and the Hudson Valley had increased participation rates, matching qualitative reports from elsewhere around the state.


Greater participation in the state tests is good news for a series of reasons:

1)    It means more students are participating in an annual check-up, allowing teachers to identify and close achievement gaps.

2)    It means that parents are responding to the steps taken by the state to reduce the amount of classroom time taken up with testing and ensure that the assessments are a clear measurement of student progress.

Summary of Data

  • Last year, 76 percent of districts decreased their opt-out rate, while this year’s sample from upstate is showing over 90 percent of district increasing their participation rates.
  • Participation rates in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, where raw numbers have been reported, show larger increases than last year (average increases of 5% in 2018 vs. an average of 2% in 2017).
  • Opt-out rates in Long Island remain high, but those rates are increasingly at odds with the rest of New York State, particularly its urban areas.
  • While there has been no initial reporting on participation in the “Big 5” Cities – New York, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers – it is important to remember that each had at least approximately 90% participation last year, with New York at 97%. There is no indication that those numbers have decreased.

Recap of Coverage

Buffalo News: Margaret Boorady, associate superintendent for school leadership, said, “Buffalo schools are always giving students an incentive for doing their best work. They do this not simply for state tests, but every day. We are way down in opt-out numbers this year, but some people will always push against the state tests. It’s all about encouraging children to do their best – even when it may be difficult.”

Lo-Hud: Wednesday marked the start of the Next Generation English Language Arts exams for grades 3-8 at many New York public schools, and early indications show the opt-out movement in Westchester and Putnam counties is fizzling.

According to unofficial reports collected by The Journal News/ from districts who shared their data voluntarily on Wednesday, many had fewer students opt out compared with last year, and some stayed the same.

Eighteen of 21 districts in Westchester and Putnam counties that voluntarily provided their data saw declines this year, compared to 2017.

Poughkeepsie Journal: Most local districts are reporting lower state test “opt out” rates, after students in grades 3-8 started English Language Arts exams this week.

Nearly one-third of the students in Dutchess County districts refused state tests in 2017, the fourth year of the opt-out movement…But in general, opt out rates are lower than last year.

In Dutchess’ two largest districts, Wappingers and Arlington, ELA refusal rates were 32 percent and 29 percent respectively, according to school officials.

Last year, the rates were 40 percent in Wappingers and 33 percent in Arlington.

Newsday: More than half of eligible students on Long Island boycotted the state English Language Arts test this week — a continuation of high opt-outs despite state efforts to win back students and their parents by shortening the exams.

A total of 74,018 students in grades three through eight across Nassau and Suffolk counties refused to take the exam out of 145,127 students eligible, according to a Newsday survey that drew responses from 97 of the Island’s 124 districts. That’s a refusal rate of 51 percent.

In Nassau, 28,831 students out of 67,630 students in the districts that responded, or 42.6 percent, sat out the latest assessments. In Suffolk, 45,187 students out of 77,497 in the responding systems, or 58.3 percent, refused to participate.