Teachers and parents looking to understand, or critique, New York’s state tests have more to work with than ever.
The state education department released three-quarters of the test questions from this year’s math and English tests on Wednesday, about 25 percent more questions than it made public last year. The release also comes two months earlier than it has for the last several years — moves meant to address complaints that the secrecy surrounding the tests keeps them from being helpful learning tools.
For the first time, the state is also set to let teachers review individual students’ answers to short-answer questions, which officials said is an effort to give teachers more useful information about how their students performed. Each grade’s reading questions also now include an analysis of the difficulty of each passage according to a variety of metrics, including word count and lexile level.
The announcement is part of a larger campaign to restore faith in the state tests, which were boycotted by one in five families last year. Calls for more transparency has been a central demand of opt-out leaders, and many teachers have raised questions about grade-level appropriateness of the reading passages in particular.
Commissioner MaryEllen Elia cut test questions and gave students unlimited time in a bid to ease pressure this year. The state also switched testing vendors from Pearson, the testing company that has been maligned for questionable reading passages in the past. This is the last year the state will use Pearson test questions.