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State math tests for students in grades 3-8 begin this week

A fifth-grader at Longwood Middle School in Middle

A fifth-grader at Longwood Middle School in Middle Island takes the state math test on May 2, 2017. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Hundreds of thousands of students in grades three through eight across the state and on Long Island will undertake the state’s standardized math exams starting this week.

The majority of students will take the traditional paper-based exams, which districts will give over two consecutive days within the state-designated time frame of Tuesday through Thursday.

The computer-based test will be given in 470 schools statewide — including 37 on Long Island — in grades chosen by local districts. The electronic version of the test also will be given over two consecutive days selected by districts, in the time frame of Tuesday through May 8.

Some schools, including several on the Island, experienced glitches this month while trying to administer the English Language Arts exam electronically.

State education leaders called the computer issues “inexcusable.” Students taking the computer-based test reportedly had trouble logging in and connecting to the network. Students in some districts lost notes as a result of the malfunction, according to published reports.

The state Education Department has been working with testing vendor Questar Assessment Inc. to “ensure a smooth testing experience for students and teachers,” department spokesman Emily DeSantis said in an emailed statement.

“As we did with ELA, we will keep CBT [computer-based test] math schools and districts informed in a timely manner of any needed updates, and we will continue to have open and constant communication with districts,” DeSantis said.

More than 100,000 students statewide took the computer-based ELA exam this spring, including those at 46 participating Long Island schools.

As occurred when the ELA test was administered, thousands of Long Island students are expected to opt out of the math exam. It would be the fourth straight year of large boycotts, which happened on a smaller scale in the test seasons of 2013 and 2014.

Those opposed to the tests say they do not accurately measure student achievement and that test preparation takes up too much class time.

In response to the outcry over the assessments, the state Board of Regents this year cut the number of test days from three to two. There also are fewer questions on the tests and they are not timed.

Earlier this month, more than 49 percent — at least 91,974 third- through eighth-grade students — refused to take either the paper-based or computer-based ELA, according to a Newsday survey that drew responses from 115 of the region’s 124 public school districts.

The number of students who take the math test will vary significantly compared with the ELA, however, because districts can waive the math test for seventh- and eighth-graders taking accelerated math classes who choose to take the Regents Algebra I exam or the Regents Geometry exam.

The Regents Algebra I exam will be offered June 12 and the geometry test will be given June 19.

Last spring, 53.6 percent of eligible students in grades three through eight refused to take the math test, according to Newsday’s survey of the Island’s districts.

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