Explore the 2015 ELA/Math Scores with This Interactive Tool

For many families across New York State, the final report card for the school year doesn’t arrive at the last day of school. It comes at mid-August, with the arrival of the ELA/Math Assessment scores.

On August 12, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released the ELA/Math scores for the school year 2014-15. This year, we created a new data visualization that displays the 2015 ELA/Math tests by School District, Subject, Grade, and Race. Feel free to click around and dive into the data! Certain criteria will generate a blank chart if the data matching that criteria is unavailable.  For those who like to dive even further into the details, here are the explanations for scoring levels for ELA and Math.

Here are the takeaways:

20% of New York State Students opted out of standardized tests this year.

The “opt-out movement” gained enough traction that NYSED had to actually address it with a dataset showing the percentage of students who elected not to take the ELA and Math Assessments.

Opt-out rates for Westchester school districts ranged anywhere from 1% to 38% for the ELA test, and 2% to 38% for the Math test. (Yes, we know: the opt-out issue probably deserves its own blog post.)

Children seem to score higher on the Math test than they do in ELA.

This parallels the statewide trend. Interestingly enough, this “math-verbal gap” has been noticed in other testing situations, primarily the SATs.

The percentage of seventh and eighth graders passing the Math Assessment doesn’t provide an accurate picture of how the student body is actually doing.

A significant portion of the students in advanced math classes (such as Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II/Trigonometry) are now electing to take the the Regents Math exam instead.

As a result, a low passing rate for eighth grade math for a school district may simply mean that the school district has a higher proportion of eight graders taking advanced math classes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a school district is failing to educate its students. For a better assessment of middle school performance, quite frankly you’re better off looking at Grade 6 Math scores instead.

Can you compare one year’s score results against the next?

There have been significant changes to testing, starting with the inclusion of Common Core standards, the seventh and eight grade math waiver, and now the upcoming change in contractors (NYSED dropped Pearson, the company that developed and delivered the previous ELA/Math tests, and awarded a new contract to Questar Assessment instead).

All these changes make it very difficult to compare one year’s results against previous years’. One would hope that the test situation eventually stabilizes so analysis of test scores across time will no longer be marked by special notes and asterisks.