Common Core Assessments

Changes to New York State Assessments

As part of the Regents Reform Agenda, New York State has embarked on a comprehensive reform initiative to ensure that schools prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and in their careers. To realize the goals of this agenda, changes are occurring in standards, curricula, and assessments.  These changes are affecting pedagogy and student learning. As a result, New York State is deeply engaged in a revision of the current State assessment program to align to the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).

PARCC's Frameworks: Their Role in Curriculum Modules and Regents Exams

Although the Board of Regents has not yet determined if New York State will administer PARCC assessments when they are available beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the PARCC Model Content Frameworks at are firmly rooted in the Common Core Learning Standards and college/career readiness. Therefore, all curricular and professional development resources produced by the State Education Department will follow these Frameworks, as will State assessments beginning with the 2013-14 school year. For more information on the role of the Frameworks please go to

Watch our Common Core Assessment Video Series.

Read the memo that the State Education Department sent to school administrators on March 6, 2013 regarding Common Core implementation and the transition to Common Core assessments.

When will the English Language Arts and Mathematics Assessments Change?

Beginning with the 2012-13 administration, the assessments in Grades 3 - 8 English Language Arts and Mathematics will measure the CCLS. Similarly, some ELA and Mathematics Regents Exams will be aligned to the CCLS beginning in the 2013-14 school year, and the rest will follow suit in the 2014-15 school year. While content will differ from that of past exams, students should still expect to see a combination of multiple-choice and constructed-response items. See the New York State Common Core Sample Questions and the Pre and post 2013 Mathematics Assessment Memos for more information.

To guide item (test question) development and to help ensure that NYS tests are measuring the CCSS for Mathematics and ELA with fidelity, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has developed Item Review Criteria and additional guidance resources. See the Common Core Assessment Design resources.

In an effort to provide educators with as much support as possible regarding the instructional and assessment shifts necessitated by the Common Core, NYSED has prepared 2013 Test Guides for each subject and grade.  The Test Guides integrate important instructional and assessment information into a single document and detail how the CCLS in English Language Arts and Mathematics will be measured on the 2013 tests and supplement the other Common Core implementation resources found on EngageNY.

Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC)

New York State is a Governing State in the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC). The Board of Regents is still considering whether to adopt the PARCC assessments for New York State. PARCC is scheduled to have computer-based assessments that measure the Common Core State Standards in ELA and Mathematics in grades 3-11 beginning in 2014-15.

Instructional Shifts and how they will be Reflected in the ELA and Mathematics Assessments

The CCLS for ELA and Mathematics will require significant changes in instruction.  There are 12 instructional shifts that the CCLS requires to ensure that curriculum materials and classroom instruction are truly aligned to the standards.

  • In ELA, these shifts will be characterized by an intense focus on complex, grade-appropriate non-fiction and fiction texts that require the application of academic vocabulary and other key college and career readiness skills. 
  • In mathematics, the CCLS require that educators focus their instruction on fewer, more central standards, thereby providing room to build core understandings and linkages between mathematical concepts and skills. 

Educators should focus their instruction around the standards and six key shifts in both ELA and mathematics. Ultimately, each of the six shifts in both subjects will be evident in the new assessments.  The following are the ways that instructors can expect the new ELA and mathematics assessments will differ from past assessments through the lens of the six shifts.  

Common Core Shifts in ELA Assessments
Shift 1: Pre-K-5, Balancing Informational & Literary Texts Passages will be authentic, and will be balanced between informational and literary texts.
Shift 2: 6-12, Knowledge in the Disciplines Assessments will contain knowledge-based questions about the informational text; students will not need outside knowledge to respond.
Shift 3: Staircase of Complexity Passage selection will be based on text complexity that is appropriate to grade level per Common Core.
Shift 4: Text-based Answers
Shift 5: Writing from Sources
Questions will require students to marshal evidence from the text, including from paired passages.
Shift 6: Academic Vocabulary Students will be tested directly on the meaning of pivotal, common terms, the definition of which can be discerned from the text. Academic vocabulary will also be tested indirectly through general comprehension of the text.
Common Core Shifts in Mathematics Assessments
Shift 1: Focus Priority standards will be the focus of the assessments. Other standards will be deemphasized.
Shift 2: Coherence Assessments will reflect the progression of content and concepts as depicted in the standards across grade levels.
Shift 3: Fluency It will be assumed that students possess the required fluencies as articulated through grade 8; as such, students will not be allowed to use calculators in grades 3-5. Students will be allowed to use four-function calculators with a square root key or scientific calculators in grade 6 and scientific calculators in grades 7-8.
Shift 4: Deep Understanding Each standard will be assessed from multiple perspectives, while not veering from the primary target of measurement for the standard.
Shift 5: Application
Shift 6: Dual Intensity
Students will be expected to know grade-level mathematical content with fluency and to know which mathematical concepts to employ to solve real-world mathematics problems.