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Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Educational Technology
J uly 10, 2014
Hon. Ted O'Brien
New York State Senate, 55th District
Room 302, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Dear Senator O'Brien,
Thank you for your recent letter in regard to New York's grades 3-8 English language arts and
mathematics assessments. I hope this letter will help explain why all test items cannot be
released and why New York State educators need to maintain test security.
In 2013, the Department released 25 percent of the test questions that actually appeared on the
grade 3-8 exams. This summer, we plan to release significantly more questions from the 2014
tests. To ensure that tests remain of high quality and fair for students, questions remain secure
and available for use on future tests with virtually every large-scale testing program (including,
for example, SAT, AP, LSAT, MCAT, K-12 state tests, certification tests, etc.).
As you know, effective teachers do not focus on individual questions and the way a particular
question happens to measure a standard. Rather, effective teachers focus on the learning
standards that the questions measure. Questions measure the standards in a variety of ways; a
focus on specific questions is an artificial and unnecessary narrowing of what we value in
student learning and prepares students to think about a standard only in one small way. That is
not what effective pedagogy is about.
This year, NYSED requested additional funding from the Legislature to increase the number of
test forms – because more test forms would enable the Department to release more test
questions. Unfortunately, our request was not funded in this year’s budget. I am hopeful that you
and your colleagues in the Legislature will be able to secure such funding in next year’s State
New York is unique among all states in that we print and distribute all of our own testing forms.
Due to our capacity constraints, we are able to produce only four versions of any test. Most
states our size have 25 – 40 versions. The more versions of a test, the more flexibility the state
has in administering field test questions and "linking questions", and the more flexibility the state
has to release questions after the test is administered. The Board of Regents
and Commissioner King look forward to your support in next year's State Budget to provide the
Department with the resources necessary to make that possible in the future.
C: J ohn B. King, J r., Commissioner of Education