That Letter About Testing

A letter about testing recently went out from the New York City Central Office of Home Schooling (that is, “Homeschooling”), and we’ve been getting some questions from parents.

Here’s the letter (dated February 14, 2013):

Dear Parent/Guardian

Grade 3-8 New York State standardized English Language Arts (ELA) exams will be administered at public schools April 16-18, 2013. Grade 3-8 mathematics exams will be administered April 24-26.

High school level Regents exams will be administered June 11-20.

These exams may be used to meet the Annual Assessment requirement of NYSED CR Part 100.10.

The results of grade 7 ELA and math exams may be viewed during the High School Application Process in 8th grade as part of the selection criteria to some programs.

If you are interested in having your child participate in any of these examinations contact your local public school one month in advance to schedule an exam.

Thank you.

First of all, “NYSED CR Part 100.10” is the New York State Regulations on Home Instruction. That’s what most of us homeschoolers refer to simply as “the Regs”. (“NYSED” stands for “New York State Education Department”, and “CR” stands for “Commissioner’s Regulations”. And “100.10” is just the section within the Commissioner’s Regulations which talks about homeschooling.) 

The sentence that led to the most confusion for the parents who contacted us was the one that begins: “The results of…”

Some parents suspected that there was a typo, because at first glance it can seem odd that for 9th-grade admissions, it’s 7th-grade records that count.

But this testing happens near the end of 7th grade, and the High School Application Process is long.

And in fact, admissions personnel are in some cases forbidden to consider 8th-grade records for 9th-grade admissions. (It depends on the program – more about that in a future blog post.) 

Parents also asked us about the word “viewed”.

This just means that certain scores from tests administered in a public school are visible in the computer system/s to certain personnel for the purpose of high school admissions (whether the kid was in public school or was homeschooled at the time the tests were taken).     

Here’s how we might rewrite the sentence in question, if it were up to us:

“If your child applies to a New York City public high school for ninth grade, the results of grade 7 ELA and math exams may be among the selection criteria for admission to some high school programs during the High School Application Process in 8th grade.”

We might also add a sentence like this: “For 10th-grade admission, it is generally 8th-grade records that matter, though later records may sometimes be used in deciding on placement (the level of the classes to be taken in each subject).”    

One parent asked whether her son would have to pass all the Regents exams in order to show “adequate academic progress” this year on his homeschool annual assessment.

We told her that only the English and Math Regents would be needed for this purpose. Similarly, if you choose not to test at a public school, and if you choose to use a CAT (California Achievement Test), you don’t have to choose a longer version of it – one that includes Science, Social Studies, etc. You can use a shorter version – one that tests only Math, Reading, and Language Arts.  

See points #31-32 in “How the Regulations Really Work” (just click on “NYS Regulations” at the top of this page) for more information on what tests you can choose from, and where to get them.

You can use the Outline of Contents near the beginning of the same document to find a lot of additional information on testing (and other things).

If there’s something you’d like us to discuss here in our blog, please write to us at comments@pahsi.net .