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New timeline packs state tests into a 10-day window next year

City schoolchildren will need to boost their test-taking endurance before next spring, when students in grades 3 through 8 take two state tests just four school days apart.

A revised exam schedule released by the state today dramatically condenses the testing timeline. It also halves the length of time alloted to scoring, eliciting concern from educators statewide about how schools will manage the new schedule.

The state announced last month that it would be moving state English language arts and math tests, previously given in January and March, closer to the end of the school year. City schools officials said then that they had lobbied for the change but hoped that the two tests would be separated by at least some time.

The schedule released today separates the two tests by just four school days. Students will take their English tests during the first three days of the last week in April and their math tests during the last three days of the following week. Unlike in the past, the tests will be given in elementary and middle schools at the same time.

“Lots of panic swirling about,” wrote Niagara Falls educator MrsBrownDog on Twitter today. A few minutes later she wrote, “HOW ARE WE GOING TO NAVIGATE SCORING WITH SO LITTLE A WINDOW BETWEEN ELA AND MATH???”

According to the new schedule, districts will have to submit scores for each exam just two weeks after testing is over. Because the tests are being given together, there is an overlap of one week where both reading and math tests will be scored simultaneously. Last year, districts spent more time grading each test. That duration proved disruptive at some city schools, particularly because teachers were, for the first time, pulled from their classes to grade the exams.

A spokesman for the city schools said next year’s condensed schedule would not be a problem. “We’re confident we’ll be able to meet thet scoring deadlines in the state’s new testing calendar,” said Andrew Jacob, adding, “We’re currently studying several ways to do that.”

City educators were already anxious about the later testing timeline, which was announced as schools were closing for the summer. Steven Evangelista, a charter school principal, said at the time that the change would require teachers at his school to rework the curriculum they had planned.

The state also released details about next year’s math tests today. For one year, the tests will cover a broader swath of material to compensate for the longer time in between tests.

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