For the second year in a row, New York parents will receive their back-to-school shopping lists before their students’ results on state assessments.

Colorado, Texas and Delaware released their scores earlier this month. In Florida and Arizona, scores were released by the end of June (even though they, too, are in the process of adjusting their assessment frameworks). Many states’ testing windows conclude by April or May, allowing scores to be made available before the start of the following year. Here in New York, parents and the public find themselves, again, preparing for yet another school year without knowing the outcome of the last

This appears to be a pattern. The State Education Department (SED) usually indicates August for the release of previous years’ scores. However, last year, it was well into October when the Empire Center sued the state for failing to follow up on a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to release the data. Scores for 2021-22 were finally made public almost eight weeks into the following school year—only a few weeks before Thanksgiving break and noticeably, just a few weeks after Election Day.

What’s the holdup? There are many factors at play. SED is currently operating with an outdated assessment framework, inconsistent and unreliable reporting procedures, as well as an overall mismanagement of resources. The ever-changing content and performance standards that guide our state assessments certainly isn’t helping either. 

This summer, the Board of Regents engaged in a process behind closed doors to adjust the scoring criteria on grades 3-8 assessments. Why? In their words, to better reflect a “new normal” for student achievement expectations (one which is apparently informed by last years’ test scores—some of the lowest in the states’ history). The technical advisory committee has yet to release a detailed methodology, so parents, school leaders, and the public have been left to guess where New York’s new definition of proficient will land. 

None of this is an excuse to leave parents and the public in the dark. Sure, a parent may have some insight into their student’s performance based on school-issued grades for classwork, interim assessments, report cards, and the like. What they (and taxpayers funding the nation’s highest-spending education system) do not get to see is how their students and schools stack up to others around the state, nor the condition of their district, before making decisions for the following year. 

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