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Regents To Reassess High School Graduation Requirements In New York

Mike Groll
A sign encouraging parents in New York to refuse to let their children take state tests. The state is rethinking its requirements for a high school diploma, including the make-or-break Regents exams that have been around since the 1800s.

The New York State Board of Regents’ reassessment of high school graduation standards won’t change the state’s troubled standardized testing system, but could allow more ways for students to graduate.

New York students must pass at least four, three-hour-long Regents exams in order to graduate. Many families statewide boycott the exams. The opt-out movement is strongest on Long Island.

“Reassessment is very, very important. It helps people to think about what education should be, what should be taught, what is important to know and why,” said Hofstra University professor Alan Singer. 

But as a former high school teacher, Singer says the Regents exam gave him “curriculum freedom” and established the level of academic performance he wanted his students to reach.

“I welcome the reassessment. I don’t think it’s a positive thing, but in the course of the dialogue, the discussion, I’m an advocate for these kinds of tests.”

The state Education Department says it will not change exam standards, but has made it a priority to allow students to demonstrate their proficiency to graduate in other ways. Schools have viewed advanced coursework, attendance and overall grade point average as reliable predictors of college or workplace success.

A Regents-appointed commission will make their recommendations in fall 2020.

The opt-out movement is in opposition to New York State's grades 3 through 8 assessment exams, not the Regents exams.