Regents no more…

By: Skylar Ribotsky 

            For many New York residents, today is a day many of us never thought we would see. Earlier this morning Board of Regents Chancellor, Betty Rosa announced that this year’s Regents exams for June would be canceled due to Coronavirus.

In a New York Post article about the Regents being canceled, Selim Algar states, “State education officials were already assessing the use of Regents exams and have hinted that a permanent overhaul of graduation requirements could be imminent.”  A Regents exam is a statewide standardized test in core high school subjects.

If you are not familiar with how our high school education system works in New York State, up until this point, you can graduate with either a Regents diploma or an advanced Regents diploma. For the regular Regents diploma you must complete any math Regents, any science Regents, a foreign language Regents like exam, the Global History Regents, the U.S. History Regents, as well as the English Regents all with a score of 65 or higher.

When it comes to the Advanced Regents diploma the requirements include the English Regents, the Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2 Regents, one physical and one life Science Regents, the Global History Regents, and U.S history Regents and a foreign language like Regents exam(usually at least three years) scoring a 65 or higher on each. 

Regents exams have long been a controversial topic in New York. When you apply to college as a New Yorker those Regents scores are looked at heavily, though when it comes to students that attend private school in New York and students from every other state, they do not take a Regents exam. The truth of the matter about Regents exams is that there is so much pressure put on students to perform because those test grades are how our teachers’ performance is evaluated. 

Though the change is coming because of COVID-19, we here at The Ribotsky Institute, feel that the conversation of changing the educational system in New York when it comes to the Regents exams is long overdue.  The fact that students who attend private schools in New York State do not have to take Regents exams is just not a fair situation.  As well as the fact that students from most other states do not have Regents exams.

The teachers in New York do not teach topics because they are important and valuable information, but more so, their curriculum is based on what is going to be on the Regents in June.    By way of example, this past year my Global history teacher made the decision to teach us about The Enlightenment even though that is not where New York State determined that the curriculum begins.  So while, we were not going to see questions directly related to The Enlightenment on the Regents in June, one can argue that history is a story, and if you do not read the first chapter of the book how are you supposed to understand the ones that follow? 

In the announcement today it said that tomorrow The New York State Board of Regents will issue guidance on graduation requirements, so as we all await that, one wonders if they are going to take this time to make a decision that will change the education system in New York for good or just rather put a band-aid on the system due to the circumstances. For once we hope that they make a decision that will actually benefits the ones getting the education… 

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