In coming weeks, many parents on Long Island and elsewhere are expected to get an early look at their children's scores from springtime state tests, with the trend due to accelerate in future years as Albany moves toward full use of computerized exams.
State education authorities released preliminary testing results for grades three through eight to local schools several weeks ago — more than a month ahead of schedules followed in past years. On the Island, school districts told Newsday that scores on the tests in English Language Arts and mathematics, which are administered mostly in late March and April, will now be passed along to parents.
According to the state Department of Education, school districts may share scores of individual students on state tests with parents and guardians now that districts have received that information from the state.
Meanwhile, Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa has announced the state intends to phase in full computer-based testing in grades 3-8 by the spring of 2026. New York has made limited use of such exams since 2016 but has fallen behind other states in numbers of students involved.
Rosa said computerized testing has been successfully introduced in 48 states and that "it is critical that New York now also transition to modern approaches to assessment that are in line with the 21st century instruction and learning being fostered in classrooms."
The tests are scored at four levels, with a 4 rated as excellent and a 1 rated as well below proficiency.
More than a million students statewide, and more than 180,000 in Nassau and Suffolk counties, are eligible for annual grades 3-8 testing. However, thousands of students have not been graded in recent years, either because of parent boycotts or disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsday, in a survey of districts this week, found that some planned on early parent notifications via computerized portals, mail or face-to-face discussions. A smaller number of districts said they planned to stick with schedules used in past years.
Among districts opting for early disclosure, East Islip said it expected to release scores during the first week of its classes, which start Sept. 6. Plainview-Old Bethpage said notification would occur by mid-September at the latest.
Mary O'Meara, superintendent of Plainview-Old Bethpage schools, said she and colleagues had concluded that notifications were most effective when carried out as close to actual testing dates as possible.
"When parents have to wait too long to find out how their children have performed, that event becomes less important to them," she said.
Under federal law, all states must conduct grades 3-8 testing annually, and some states disclose results much more quickly than New York does. For example, Texas released the bulk of its scores on June 28, and Florida on July 1, according to the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research group based at Arizona State University.
On Aug. 15, New York City's school system announced that scores would be made available to parents via electronic portal.
In Nassau and Suffolk counties, many districts have come to rely on private testing systems with names such as NWEA, I-Ready and Renaissance STAR to measure student performance. However, many school administrators have said state tests as well as private ones could be more useful if their results were released earlier in the year.
Hank Grishman, superintendent of Jericho schools, said Rosa's effort to accelerate the release of scores was appreciated. He added, "Ideally, the information would be most helpful to us in June as we are individually evaluating kids, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and making determinations about their placement for the coming year."
Grishman is a former president of the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
Parent leaders noted that gaps in students' technical skills and lack of reliable Wi-Fi services in some communities could continue to pose obstacles to computer-based testing. In 2021, the latest year for which full state data is available, computers were used by about 27% of students tested in English and 24% tested in math.
"Some students are very adept at using computers and very familiar with using them, others are not," said Catherine Romano, a former PTA president in Islip who has also served on the organization's state governing board. "Some school districts have the fast internet speed and internet access, some do not."
Rosa, in announcing goals for full computerization, acknowledged the state had run into technical glitches in 2019. The commissioner added, however, that more than 230,000 students statewide had participated in computerized instruction in 2022, "with no significant technical concerns."
One testing expert, Scott Marion, noted that New York is speeding up delivery of test scores even as it recovers from classroom disruptions caused by the pandemic last year. "So I think they should be applauded for releasing them now," said Marion, who has served as an education consultant to New York and dozens of other states.
Marion is executive director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, a research group based in Dover, New Hampshire.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story reported that some districts had told Newsday that they would share state test scores with parents once a state embargo was lifted. According to the state Department of Education, however, school districts may share the student test scores with parents and guardians now that districts have received that information from the state.