Grs. 3-8 ELA/Math State Assessment Info for Parents

In a few weeks, the New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics exams will be administered to students. This year, the ELA assessment will be administered on April 3 & 4, 2019, and the Math assessment will be administered on May 1 & 2, 2019.

Below is a letter about recent changes to the state exams and information about how the district uses assessment results to better serve your child. For more info, see Frequently Asked Questions & Answers and "What Parents Need to Know."

March 25, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians:

In a few weeks, the New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics exams will be administered to students. This year, the ELA assessment will be administered on April 3 & 4, 2019, and the Math assessment will be administered on May 1 & 2, 2019.

Based on educator and parent feedback over the last few years, several changes were made to the state assessments. As noted above, the number of test sessions for these annual assessments was reduced from three to two; that change remains in effect this year. Below is a summary of additional changes:

  • Fewer testing days and fewer questions – Last year, the Grades 3–8 ELA and Math assessments were reduced from three test sessions per subject to only two sessions per subject, meaning each subject will have two days of testing instead of three. With fewer test sessions, each test will have fewer questions than in past years, lessening test fatigue for students and better enabling them to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.
  • Untimed tests – The tests continue to be untimed so students who are still working on their exams will be allowed to continue to work, within the confines of the regular school day. Students can finish exams at their own pace and those who finish may be permitted to submit their test and leave the room.
  • More teacher involvement – Test questions are reviewed and written by New York State teachers. Hundreds of NYS educators were involved in creating and reviewing questions for 2019 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math assessments and selecting questions that are fair and appropriate for students.
  • Results not tied to evaluations – Student performance on the 2019 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math exams will have no employment-related consequences for teacher and principal evaluations. This means no teachers or principals in New York State public schools will be affected by the results of the 2019 state assessments.
  • Computer-based testing (CBT) – Our district is choosing to administer the 2019 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math assessments on the computer. The computer-based test will have the same questions as the paper version but students will take the test on a computer, tablet, or Chromebook.

We would like to take this opportunity to explain how the results of these assessments help us better serve your child. The most important thing we want parents to know is that the state assessments provide us with meaningful data that we use to improve education for all students. We view these tests as a measure of the district’s performance in meeting the state standards, not your child’s. Your child’s results will be used to better understand their learning and to adjust our instruction accordingly. Assessment data provides teachers with valuable information that will guide their curriculum, teaching strategies and interventions. This is the key reason that the district and educational groups, like the National PTA, urge parents to have their children participate in these assessments.

While we respect the decision some families will make regarding the state assessments, we encourage participation now more than ever. The more students that take the assessments, the more informed we can be on how our students are learning so we can better meet their needs. For this reason, students who refuse the state exams will complete a district-created assessment that will be used internally for academic programming and planning purposes.

Just like with any assessment, we ask our students to simply do their best. We are very proud of the growth our students have shown in recent years. Part of this growth is attributed to our use of the data we receive each year from these assessment results. It has shown us where curricular and instructional changes are needed. While graduation may seem far away, we know, as educators, that we must tailor our instruction and programs now to help your child succeed in the future.

We respectfully encourage you to have your child participate in the state testing program this spring for all of the reasons explained above. If you decide to refuse the NYS exam, we must receive written notification at least one (1) week prior to the test dates. As noted above, students with written parent letters refusing the state assessment will take a comparable district assessment to ensure we have the data needed to fully support our students.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or principal if you have any questions. We want to ensure you have all the information you need on this important matter. Thank you.


Christopher Stein, Cairo-Durham Elementary School Principal

Michael Mitchell, Cairo-Durham Middle School Principal

Anthony J. Taibi, Cairo-Durham CSD Superintendent of Schools

Additional Resources

  • Like the past several years, the State Education Department will release 75% of questions from the 2019 tests and the instructional reports for educators on or around June 1. You can view 2018 test questions on EngageNY at