top of page

Common Core


New York State administers ELA/Literacy and Mathematics Common Core tests intended to provide students, families, educators, and the public better measures of student proficiency in the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in college and careers.

Every spring, the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests are administered to students across New York State. These annual ELA and math tests for students in grades 3-8 are required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. The tests are designed to measure how well students are mastering the learning standards that guide classroom instruction and help to ensure that students are on track to graduate from high school with the critical thinking, problem solving, and reasoning skills needed for success in college and the workplace. The tests also show how schools and districts are progressing with the learning standards and can be used to support professional development for teachers.

Tests taken in 4th Grade are a part of the admissions process for middle school entry as well as 7th Grade test is used for the high school admissions process.  Hunter College uses the 5th Grade test as a screen to grant an invite to take their test in 6th Grade for their high school entry.


The third to eight grade English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Tests are two
sessions each. This means that students will take each subject test over only two testing days.
Like the 2016 - 2019 tests, the 2020 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Tests will be untimed. Schools and districts have the discretion to create their own approaches to ensure that all students who are productively working are given the time they need within the confines of the regular school day to take the tests. 

Test Structure
The third to eight grade state ELA Tests contain multiple-choice questions based on brief reading passages and performance assessment items. They measure students' attainment of skills such as understanding story events, drawing conclusions, making predictions, identifying the main idea, using vocabulary strategies, identifying supporting details, identifying point of view, evaluating ideas, understanding features that distinguish genres, and using figurative language to interpret text.

The third to eight-grade State Math tests contain multiple choice questions and performance assessment items. In Grades 3–8, students are required to apply mathematical understandings and mathematical practices gained in the classroom in order to answer three types of questions: multiple-choice, short-response, and extended-response. Session 1 consists of multiple-choice questions. Session 2 consists of multiple-choice, short-response, and extended-response questions. Students will NOT be permitted to use calculators in Grades 3–5. In Session 2 of Grade 6 students must have the exclusive use of a four-function calculator with a square root key or a scientific calculator. In Grades 7–8, students must have the exclusive use of a scientific calculator for both Session 1 and Session 2.



The ELA and Math Tests include multiple choice and open-ended questions, which assess grade-level learning standards. The questions require students to apply their knowledge and, in open-ended responses, explain their reasoning. Students will read texts, write responses, and solve real-world word problems, all of which are foundational skills necessary for success in their next grade.


The ELA Tests administered by paper and pencil will be given on two consecutive school days of the school’s In March. The Math tests administered by paper and pencil will be given on two school days of the school’s choosing in April. There are make-up test dates for students absent on test days. For the fourth year in a row, some districts/schools have chosen to administer the tests on the computer. This is called computer-based testing (CBT). Students in those schools utilizing the CBT option have access to CBT practice tests and their districts must have had prior experience participating in computer-based tests in ELA and Math. The computer-based tests will have the same questions as the paper versions. However, students testing on the computer will select their answers for multiple-choice questions on the computer and type their responses to open-ended questions rather than handwriting their responses to these questions in the paper test booklet.



The results of the annual assessments will provide information about your child’s academic progress and achievement.The report will show you how your child did in comparison to other students across the State and how your child scored in specific skill and concept areas. For example, the ELA report gives scores for both reading and writing; the Math report gives scores for the key math concepts for your child’s grade level.  As in prior years, we anticipate the test results will be available in August.

Performance Level

New York State assigns Performance Levels 4, 3, 2, and 1 to scale scores on the test. Students can score a Level 4 through Level 1 on the test, depending on their scale score (see chart below). See the bottom of this page for definitions of each of the four Performance Levels.

Proficiency Rating

The Proficiency Rating shows where a student falls within a particular Performance Level. Ratings range from 1.0 to 4.5.


Scale Score

Student performance on the test is translated into an overall Scale Score. Scale Scores range from 148 – 423.

(NYS English Language Arts Grade 3 Scale Score Ranges)

  • Level 4: 358 – 423

  • Level 3: 320 – 357

  • Level 2: 291 – 319

  • Level 1: 148 – 290


New York City Percentile Range

The percentile range is displayed in quartiles; it shows whether your child’s performance falls in the bottom 25% (0-25%), between 26% and 50%, between 51% and 75%, or in the top 25% (76-100%) of all students in New York City in your child’s grade level and on this test.


Overall State Percentile Range

Same as above, except that this range shows how your child performed relative to all students in New York State in your child’s grade level and on this test.

bottom of page