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State exam schedule is set

Testing to look different than before Covid

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Exam season has begun for students in the East Meadow School District, which prompted an update at the April 7 Board of Education meeting on when tests will be taken, and some details on the process.

Testing will not only be radically different from last year, when many final exams were canceled, but it will also be different from pre-coronavirus pandemic years. For example, high school students traditionally do not attend school during the state Regents exams, a block of testing that usually lasts roughly two weeks. But this year, because there are only four tests being administered rather than nine, students will have four extra days of school.

Plans for the extra days  of school

What will be done during those four days is still under discussion, Dr. Dave Casamento, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said.

After the board meeting, parent Wendy Shea said she planned to speak with administrators about how they planned to motivate high school students to stay in school about a week longer than they normally do. “[They would usually] sleep, go to the beach or be seniors after everything they’ve lost,” Shea said.

She didn’t offer a suggestion on what should be done during those extra days, but said she was sure that is something that needs to be considered by the administration.

Casamento said the district was still discussing what students would be doing. “It’s tradition [during] Regents week that you don’t have school on days you don’t take a Regents,” he said. “The kids have been through a lot, and that’s what parents are saying, so we’re looking through some options. It’s not going to be anything hard, and once we lay out the plan, the parents will see that.”

He added that the state’s efforts to receive a waiver from the federal government for students in grades three through eight to be excused from standardized testing were unsuccessful. The federal government, he said, is not entertaining waivers.

“The state is basically saying that we’re going to do these tests, but we’re going to do them differently than we have done in the past because we’re in a pandemic,” Casamento said.

Testing details

Both the English Language Arts and math exams will have multiple-choice questions. The science test will consist only of a written portion. The tests will last one day.

The New York State Alternative Assessment and English as Second Language Achievement Test will be administered as well. It’s important that parents of children who will take these tests make them a priority, Casamento said, because the results guide decision-making on student placement.

“The NYSAA is given to probably our most severely disabled students, and that’s what the test is designed for,” he said. “That has been a computer-based assessment for probably the last seven years at this point.”

The ESL exam provides educators with a way to gage a student’s language development.

“The district really strongly encourages the parents of those students to bring their children into the district for us to assess them so that we can really, really service their language needs,” Casamento said.

Students who do not take a Regents exam but are passing the course are entitled to a grade of E. Their final average will serve as a Regents grade. If a student does poorly on the Regents, but is passing the course, he or she can take an E, and if a student is failing and receives a score on the Regents of 75 or higher, he or she will automatically pass the course.

Advanced Placement exams, in subjects ranging from calculus to music theory to chemistry, will be held May 4 to June 10. Paper tests will be given in school, and digital exams can be taken at home.

“The teachers made the decision on what format their students should take the exam,” Casamento said, “and although we give them the choice to not do the paper version if they choose to do it digitally, they should really consider taking the teacher’s decision to heart. But we respect every parent’s decision whether or not they will send their student in to school to take the exam in person.”

Remote students are not required to come to school for the tests, but are allowed to, and will be seated in a separate room.

Parents are also allowed to opt out of the tests for their children. Similar to previous years, learning tasks will be given to students who come to school but who will not take the exams.

Students’ scores will be used only for curricular purposes, and not for annual professional performance review.

For more information about exams, go to www.emufsd.us.