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Guide to Elementary
and Middle School

The Seal of the University of the State of New York

For information contact

The New York State Education Department
Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education
Information and Reporting Services
Room 863 EBA
Albany, N.Y. 12234
(518) 474-7965
Web site:


The New York State School Report Card is an important part of the Board of Regents effort to raise learning standards (see definition of learning standards in the Q & A) for all students. It is designed to provide information to the public on student performance on State tests and other measures of school and district performance. Knowledge gained from the school report card on a school’s strengths and weaknesses can be used to plan programs and curriculum and to allocate resources.

While the report card can assist in performing these important functions, misuse of the information on the report card can result in harmful programmatic decisions. When reviewing school performance, consider that student academic readiness, motivation, and family and community support vary among schools and significantly affect performance. Though the report card can indicate how well students performed against measured standards (e.g., State tests), it does not provide information about student performance on other measures valued by the community. As such, decisions about school programs are better made by combining information about performance with information gained by visiting the school. Reviewers of the report card should also note that small differences among schools and small year-to-year changes are not meaningful.

This year’s school report card is composed of complementary parts:

The Overview reports the performance of students in a school on English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science tests at the elementary and middle levels; school enrollments; and school demographic data. It reports the performance of students who entered ninth grade in fall 1997 and fall 1998 on Regents English and mathematics examinations. The Overview also includes information on graduation rate for the 1998 cohort, which consists of students who entered ninth grade in fall 1998. School data and district data are provided in separate reports, the School Report Card and the District Report Card. The school report compares the school's results with those of similar schools (see definition of similar schools in the Q & A), and the companion district report compares school district results with statewide results. The Analysis reports on the same information but for students grouped by racial/ethnic group, disability status, gender, English proficiency status, income level, and migrant status.

The School Accountability Status report indicates whether a school met State standards (see definition of State standards in the Q & A) in 2000, 2001, and 2002. It also indicates if the school is considered in need of improvement for the 2002–03 school year and subject to interventions under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The Comprehensive Information Report (CIR) reports three years of results on all State tests not included in the Overview and Analysis, including second language proficiency examinations, Regents competency tests, Regents examinations, the introduction to occupations examination, elementary- and middle-level social studies tests, and New York State Alternate Assessments for students with severe disabilities. The CIR also provides information on high school completers; attendance, suspension, and dropout rates; student enrollments and demographics; and professional staff.

Questions & Answers

Q. What are the learning standards?

A. The learning standards are descriptions of broad expectations of what students should know, understand, and be able to do at each grade level in seven subject areas as they progress through grades K-12 in New York State schools. The Board of Regents established these standards.

Q. What is the relationship between the school report card and the learning standards?

A. Both are part of the statewide strategy for raising the level of student achievement. The strategy includes:

Q. What is the System of Accountability for Student Success (SASS)?

A. SASS is a system established by the State by which schools are held accountable for enabling their students to meet the State standards. Over time, all schools in the State are expected to increase the percentages of their students who demonstrate proficiency in English and mathematics. (Further information on SASS is available on the New York State Education Department web site: SASS is being modified to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Student and school performance on State tests in the 2002–03 school year will be evaluated using the new accountability criteria based on these modifications. (Further information on NCLB is available on the web:

Q. What is the Performance Index?

A. Schools are assigned a Performance Index ranging from 0 to 200, based on the performance of students on the elementary- and middle-level State tests. Student scores on the tests are converted to four achievement levels, from Level 1 indicating no proficiency to Level 4 indicating advanced proficiency. Schools are given partial credit for students scoring at Level 2 and full credit for students scoring at Level 3 or Level 4. They receive no credit for students scoring at Level 1. Schools improve their Index by decreasing the percentage of students scoring at Level 1 and increasing the percentages scoring at Levels 3 and 4.

Q. What are the State standards?

A. The Commissioner establishes a State standard for each year. The State standard is the Performance Index value a school is expected to achieve in order to demonstrate acceptable progress toward the State goal of proficiency for all students. Depending on the school’s Performance Index, the school falls into one of three categories: meeting the State standard, below the State standard, and farthest from the State standard.

The State standards at the elementary and middle levels are determined for ELA and mathematics tests. The State standards established by the Commissioner for 2000–01, 2001–02, and 2002–03 were 140, 145, and 150, respectively.

Q. What is expected of schools whose Performance Index is below the State standard?

A. Districts must develop a local assistance plan for schools whose Performance Index is below the State standard. The plan must include activities to improve performance of all students and to enable the school to meet or exceed State standards.

Q. What happens when there are too few students in a school to make a judgment about the school’s performance?

A. If a school reports fewer than 20 tested students, the school’s achievement or progress is determined by combining student results over two years in order to make the judgment on a minimum of 20 students. Data on small groups of students cannot provide reliable information as to what extent the school is providing a program that enables students in that group to meet the State standards. Release of these data would also jeopardize the anonymity of the students.

Q. What are similar schools?

A. Similar schools are schools throughout the State that serve similar students and have similar resources. Each school report card compares the school’s performance with that of similar schools. The following factors are considered in grouping schools: a) the grade levels served by the school, b) rates of student poverty and limited English proficiency, and c) the income and property wealth of district residents. Student poverty levels are indicated by determining the percentage of children in the school who participate in the free-lunch program.

Q. What information is provided about students with disabilities?

A. The performance of students with disabilities on the grades 4, 5, and 8 tests is reported. Students with disabilities may use modifications when taking State tests, if these modifications are specifically written in their individualized education program, so caution should be used when comparing results among schools. The performance of students with severe disabilities administered the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) is also shown.

Q. How is the performance of limited English proficient (LEP) students assessed and reported?

A. In 2001–02, grades 4 and 8 LEP students who were not ready to participate effectively in the academic program were not required to take the State ELA test. Instead, their progress in learning English was measured using more appropriate tests and reported. The school report card shows the number of students in this category and the number who made appropriate progress in learning English. The mathematics, science, and social studies tests are translated into other languages for use by LEP students.

Q. What are the new requirements for a high school diploma?

A. Beginning with students who entered ninth grade in 2001, all students will be required to pass at least five Regents examinations and earn at least 22 units of credit, including four units in English, four in social studies, three in mathematics, three in science, one in the arts, one in a language other than English, one-half in health, and two in physical education. Higher requirements have been established for an advanced designation on the Regents diploma.

Q. How will school report cards help parents ensure that their children’s schools are meeting or exceeding the State standards?

A. The school report card shows whether or not schools are meeting the State standards. For those schools that are not meeting the standards, the report card shows the adequate yearly progress targets that the schools are expected to meet and indicates whether these schools are meeting their targets. Parents can use the school report cards to see how well a school is performing and whether or not student performance is improving.

Q. How can parents help their children meet higher standards?

A. Parents can help their children by talking with them and reading aloud to them, asking teachers what is expected at school, and monitoring their learning and homework.

Q. How can I get more information on the school report card and the new higher standards?

A. You may call the State Education Department at (518) 474-7965 or e-mail us at the following address: Copies of the New York State Report Card for all public schools and districts, information on the standards and new State assessments, and other information can be found on the Department’s web site:

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The State Testing Program at the Elementary and Middle Levels

Elementary- and middle-level tests in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science, and social studies are designed to help ensure that all students reach the higher learning standards. The tests challenge students to demonstrate their ability to read, write, and listen, and to understand and apply information related to mathematics, science, and social studies. The tests also show whether students are getting the foundation knowledge they need to succeed in later grades.

On the elementary- and middle-level ELA, mathematics, and social studies tests and the middle-level science test, performance is shown using four levels (Level 1, indicating no proficiency, to Level 4, indicating advanced proficiency), each encompassing a range of raw scores. The levels indicate how well students are progressing toward meeting the learning standards. On the elementary-level science test, performance is shown by indicating the number of tested students meeting the State-designated level (i.e., achieving the learning standards in elementary-level science) and the number not meeting the State-designated level. Mean scores are also reported for all of these tests.

School districts must develop a plan for providing appropriate academic intervention services to students who score at Level 1 or Level 2 on the elementary- and middle-level ELA, mathematics, and social studies tests and the middle-level science test, and for students who score below the State designated level on the elementary-level science test

The State Education Department does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, religion, creed, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, gender, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or sexual orientation in its educational programs, services and activities. Portions of this publication can be made available in a variety of formats, including braille, large print or audiotape, upon request. Inquiries concerning this policy of nondiscrimination should be directed to the Department’s Office of Diversity, Ethics, and Access, Room 152 Education Building, Albany, NY 12234.

This page was last updated on April 10, 2003.

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