ALBANY - Test scores for students in grades 3-8 rose in New York this year after the state cut back the number of testing days, leading to fewer students opting out of the exams.

In English tests, 45.2 percent of students in New York were deemed proficient, while 44.5 percent were proficient in math, according to results released Wednesday by the state Education Department.

The figures are up from 2017 results, but the state cautioned against comparing the two years, saying changes to the tests as well as going from six to four days of exams makes them hard to compare.

“To close the gaps in student achievement, we need information that identifies where those gaps exist,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement.

“The State assessments help establish a foundation to identify the grades, schools, and groups of students that need more support."

A lower percentage of students opted out of the exams, which has been a significant issue for the state to gauge the performance of students and teachers and has threatened state aid.

In the tests given last spring, 18 percent of students opted out of the exams, with the majority of the opt outs on Long Island.

That's down from 21 percent who opted out in 2016 and 19 percent who did so in 2017.

More than 950,000 students took the tests this year.

"Statewide, the vast majority of students who refused the tests were from average or low-need school districts," the education department said.

"Long Island remains the geographic area with the highest percentage of test refusals in both mathematics and ELA. Charter schools and schools in the Big 5 city school districts had the lowest refusal rates in the state."

As for the state's largest cities, New York City continues to produce the strongest results, followed by Yonkers with 29.6 percent proficient in English and 28.3 percent in math.

Rochester still ranked at the bottom of the largest school districts in New York, with with just 11.4 percent of students deemed proficient in English and 10.7 percent in Math.

Buffalo fared better at 23.4 percent proficient in English and 21 percent in math.

The gap in the results between black students and their white peers narrowed by 0.8 percentage points from 2017 to this year; the gap between Hispanic and white students narrowed by 1.2 percent.

For the full list of results, visit: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/pressRelease/20180926/home.html