NY State English Language Arts Test (ELA)

Who takes this test?

Students in grades 3–8 take the State English Language Arts (ELA) test each spring.

Students who have been in the United States for less than one year are not required to take the NY State ELA test in their grade, but must start taking ELA tests after their first year. Some students with disabilities may take the NY State Alternate Assessments (NYSAA) in place of the State test, if it says so on their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

When is this test given?

The test is given over the course of two days. In 2019, the ELA exam dates are April 2–3, with make-up exams on April 4–5, and April 8–9.

What is on the test?

The ELA test is an untimed test that contains several different kinds of question. Students answer multiple-choice questions based on short passages they read, and write responses to open-ended questions based on stories, articles, or poems they listen to or read.

How is the test scored?

The NY State Grades 3-8 exams are scored by licensed and trained New York City teachers. The exams are scored through a distributed scoring process, meaning no student’s exam is scored by a teacher from the student’s school. This scoring complies with NY State Education Department and DOE policies regarding scoring of State exams.

How are the results reported?

The number of correct answers a student gives on a test is converted into the student’s “scale score.” Scale scores are divided into four performance levels. Schools distribute test results on Individual Parent Reports for each family. The Parent Reports include the student's scale score, performance level, and information on his or her strengths and weaknesses in the different skill areas tested.

How are the results used?

State assessments are an important part of a student’s core educational program. They:

  • evaluate student mastery of content and skills in various areas,
  • measure the extent to which students are on track to graduate high school, and are college- and career ready, and
  • help shape future instruction.

Along with student work on classroom assignments, projects, essays, and assessments, State test results give teachers information about where students are on their path toward college and careers.

The DOE uses test results to see how schools are performing and to identify areas where schools can be better supported. In addition, some DOE programs and middle and high schools use State test results as one component of decisions about admissions. Students without State test results can still apply for these programs but may need to take additional steps. These State tests will not have grade-promotion consequences for students or formal evaluation consequences for teachers or principals until at least the 2019–2020 school year. Any metrics based on these assessments will be used for developmental or formative purposes only.

For more information on Grades 3-8 New York State Tests, see the 2019 New York State Grades 3-8 Student Participation Guide – Parents:

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