The NY state exams are a point of stress for teachers and students alike each year. For the majority of the year, teachers work and worry to make sure students have seen all of the curriculum covered on the exam. For students, the exam seems to become relevant the week it’s to be administered, but no less, students experience real nervousness and burnout in their wake. So, to what extent do these exams affect your child’s acceptance into Middle School? For all the blood, sweat, and tears leading up the exam, does it count much? The answer depends on the middle schools you’re applying to.
A similar question was asked by parents choosing to opt-out from New York state testing. They were concerned as to whether their choice not to participate and receive an exam score would affect their child’s admission to a “good” middle or high school. As it turns out, many middle schools do not review NYS exam scores in admissions decisions. There are even more schools that claim testing scores are not a determining factor in admissions decisions. However, that is not necessarily the case at every NYC middle school.
There are of course more selective schools, who weigh students’ state test scores more heavily in admissions decisions. Take, for instance, PS 334 The Anderson School. The school provides a table on its website outlining a guide for initial eligibility for admission. According to their guide, fourth grade NYS Standardized Test Scores account for 40% of student eligibility. Further, the school provides a point system for intervals of various scores. Clearly, at PS 334 admission relies more heavily on state exam scores, but there is no one answer to the question “Do fourth-grade state test scores matter in middle school admission?”
If your child has already taken their exams, and you’re considering middle schools to apply to, poke around. Explore the school’s website, or call their admissions office, and find out what role NYS exam scores play in their decisions. If the office relays that the exams do impact admissions, consider asking specifics. You might ask what the mean score of an accepted student is, or the high and low end of exam scores admitted. Regardless, state law requires that the New York state test scores cannot be the only, or even too significant, an admission consideration in the school’s admissions rubric. NYC middle schools are required to have an admissions rubric approved by the DOE.
If your child hasn’t yet taken their exams, it’s still worth investigating state test scores’ value to your prospective middle schools. Gaining insight into the scores the schools you’re considering seek out, if they seek scores out at all, will give you more control in your child’s middle school trajectory. With the knowledge of how their exam scores affect their admissions, your student can make a game plan to prepare for the tests themselves. If their first-choice school is looking for relatively high exam scores, you can regularly measure your score on past exams at checkpoints leading up to the test. Better yet, you can work with tutors at Tip-Top Brain for personalized support preparing for exams or enroll in a course this school year to routinely bolster your ELA and Math skills.
Long story short, NYS exam scores may or may not matter in your child’s middle school acceptance. You can take solace in the fact that the exam scores will never be a sole factor in admissions decisions, nor weighted too heavily, but they can still impact admissions significantly. The degree to which they impact admissions is up to individual schools, so it could prove beneficial to play detective and get the scoop from schools you’re considering. There’s no time like the present, you’re best served to learn now rather than later. As for your student, there’s no time like the present to start preparing!