Back during the making of the New York State budget, the Board of Regents requested $15 million dollars to develop and administer NYS Regents. A regents is a test that is given in high school, statewide, at the same time and day everywhere in the state. These tests include a Global History regents (given at the end of 10th grade after two years of global history), US History (given at the end of 11th grade), English (this has been a variety of tests over the years but always at the end of 11th grade), various maths and sciences. NY is one of the only states that gives these tests in so many subjects and, until last month, offered the exams three times a year – January, June and August.
The budget request for $15 million did not fall on deaf ears but did fall somewhere as NY is in a huge fiscal crisis. The Regents received $7 million. As a means of saving $1.4 million, the Board of Regents decided to stop offering January exams. An additional $700,000 savings will come from totally removing foreign languages from the Regents. The Regents only offered a third year exam in Spanish, French and Italian at this point in time and the last of these will be given this month.
Do I think this move will effect me, or my family, personally? No. I have one high school student left, out of six children. He took his English and US History Regents last week and will take a Chemistry Regents on Wednesday. He should pass all of these. Truthfully, he need only pass the English and US History to graduate high school. He has already passed two other science Regents in previous years: Earth Science and Living Environment.
Will this move effect other high school students in the state? Definitely! Many years back when the first major change was made to the English Regents – the exam went from a one sitting of three hours maximum to a two sitting of six hours maximum, many school districts were fearful of the pass rate in June. Consequently, the districts opted to give the English Regents to 11th graders in January. Those who did not pass – and they needed to pass with at least a 65 to graduate – had four more chances to take the test before actual graduation. Once the test was a known commodity, additional districts opted to give the English Regents in January as 11th grade also includes the US History Regents, possibly a 3rd year foreign language Regents, possibly a math Regents, and possibly a science Regents. In addition to these Regents tests, many 11th graders are also taking Advanced Placement tests just prior to end of year testing.
Many people believe that eliminating the January testing dates will put too much pressure on students who MUST pass the exam to graduate. Many large city schools also feel that their at-risk populations will have trouble with two less chances to pass required-for-graduation tests.
My personal thoughts are this is going to hurt those who are most at-risk for not finishing high school. Those who are AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) students will manage their stress and take the Regents when they are offered. Might it have been easier to have a January option? Undoubtedly. Is it a necessity? Definitely not.
If you live in NY, what are your thoughts? If you do not live in NY, what does your state require, as far as testing, for graduation from high school? I will write my thoughts about the abolishing of foreign language testing at a future date.
Please realize these thoughts are mine and mine alone. They do not reflect the feelings of the school district my child attends and of which I am a member of the board of education.