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Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, only four out of 10 elementary and middle school-aged children in New York took state math or English assessments this past spring. As a result, officials will not release 2020-21 state testing data and will instead only release district and individual school scores. 

“While educators and school-based staff rose to meet unprecedented challenges last year, everything about education was different for educators, students and parents, including the state assessments,” said New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa. “This year just 4 in 10 students took the tests so the data does not reflect the majority of students’ learning. State exams are just one of multiple measures of student learning used to help shape student individualized learning plans so they have the supports they need.”

In the years prior to the pandemic, about 80% of third through eighth-grade students in New York would sit for either the math or English Language Arts exams, according to the state Department of Education. But this past spring, only 41.9% of children enrolled in the third through eighth grade took the ELA exam while 39.9% took the math test.

The state education department released the results of state-wide exams to local school districts on Thursday with the warning that test results are not reflective of students’ academic progress.

“The pandemic exacerbated already existing inequities for students and this fact is most evident in our 2021 statewide assessment participation rates,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young. “The Board and the Department are committed to addressing these disparities by helping schools implement policies and practices to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom. Together we must work to ensure that all New York State students have the support they need to be successful in school and in life.”

Last year, the New York State Department of Education requested a federal waiver in administering state-wide exams due to the pandemic but were denied their petition by the Biden administration decided there needed to be some way to measure pandemic-related learning loss. As a result, the state remained legally obligated to administer state assessments but was given the flexibility to offer shortened versions of the tests and allow fully remote students the option to sit out the tests altogether.
This story first appeared on amNY.com.
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