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NY State considers dumping most “Regents” Exams

March 7, 2010 pm31 6:48 pm

They claim they could save $13.7 million.

Closing a budget gap is the wrong reason to dump the Regents. But there are lots of right reasons.

It’s in a memo from, Dr. John B. King, Jr., Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education. I like that. I mean “P-12.” I haven’t seen that designation before. Anyhow, he’s new. Since September. And to do his part to close the budget gap, he’s proposing doing away with:  (you can just read what I wrote, but click here to see the full memo) (it’s probably a doomsday scare tactic, but still…)

  • January regents
  • August regents
  • Component Retesting in math
  • Component Retesting in English
  • translation into Chinese
  • translation into Korean
  • translation into Kriól
  • translation into Russian
  • 8th grade second language proficiency exams
  • foreign language regents
  • Geometry regents
  • algebra 2/trig regents
  • US history regents
  • global history regents
  • physics regents
  • chemistry regents
  • earth science (or living environment??) regents
  • paper grading materials (pushes costs of printing onto the schools)

Well, that doesn’t leave much, does it?

  • Algebra Regents
  • ELA Regents (newer, slimmer, 3 hour version)
  • 1 science regents (living environment most likely, but perhaps earth science?)


They all should go. I would be glad if they did. But the memo is just a threat, a doomsday prediction. So I’m not holding my breath.

  1. Our New York State testing program, all high stakes, has wrongly been allowed to dominate the lives of students in all grades. It is regrettable that he did not include any of the 3-8 testing program… but he spared anything connected to NCLB
  2. The Regents suck. Apparently, they didn’t always. But from the first day I taught, 13 years ago, they were all a little iffy. And most have gotten worse. In my subject area, mathematics, they are regularly an embarrassment.
  3. No one knows why kids take regents, beyond that it is what kids in New York always did. Are they high school exit exams?  Do they measure competency in a particular subject area?  Do they measure competency with particular course material? Which course?  All of these questions got dumb stares or evasive answers from the people at the top. No wonder the kids know that they are being tested, but don’t have a clue why.
  4. Most high school students are still faced with an inordinately high number of high stakes tests. Many take an AP. Some take multiple APs. Many take multiple SAT IIs. Almost all take PSATs or SATs or both.

Chaz says that we’re losing the gold standard in testing. But New York hasn’t held that distinction in at least a generation. If it ever did. I wonder, was it just a myth?

I find that born-and-bred New Yorkers often swear by the Regents. But they have never experienced life in a non-testing state. They might see things differently if they had.

If we really dump these, I’m looking forward to the following things going away:

  • Time wasted on Regents marking.
  • Class time lost to Regents testing.
  • Class time lost to Regents prep.
  • Getting measured by regents pass rates
  • Covering inane topics, because they are on the regents.
  • Not having time to linger on a topic and consider it in depth (because it is at most one multiple choice question?)
  • Not being allowed to delve into an interesting related topic (because it is not on the test)
30 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2010 pm31 7:04 pm 7:04 pm

    I agree it has been a decade (maybe a generation) since the NYS Regents was the gold standard. However, I still say it is better than having no exams at all.

  2. March 7, 2010 pm31 7:30 pm 7:30 pm

    I have mixed feelings about the regents exams. Standards are very low with them, but they would even be lower without them. Even in my good school, we have kids who can’t pass. All these kids would be pushed through if there was no regetns accountability.

    With the old regents exams, we taught kids how to think, now we teach them how to guess and how to push buttons.

    I don’t believe getting rid of regents would allow any real teaching to go on.

  3. March 7, 2010 pm31 10:56 pm 10:56 pm

    I’d love to see them all go away, if by “all” you meant the mandatory Regents – High Stakes Edition. Institute a General Diploma that all kids can aspire to and work towards, including the tech kids and SpecEd kids and the “kept from being dropouts by hook or by crook” kids. Then ratchet up the Regents’ standards and allow the not-quite AP kids to have a “gold standard” to strive for. Pass “x” number of said tests and get a Regents diploma. Sort of an honors class.

    But I digress. Carry on. Nothing to see here. Move along. That pothole in the educational road only swallowed a few students. Move along, Sir.

  4. March 11, 2010 am31 11:07 am 11:07 am

    I would love not having any regents. I am currently in 10th grade and i have 2 more years of testing left, and I would be glad if this was my last

  5. Denise Mink permalink
    March 15, 2010 pm31 10:08 pm 10:08 pm

    As a teacher I always hated “teaching to the test”. What a gross waste of time and money. I agree with jd2718 and Curmdugeon. Let’s linger and delve. Let’s make education relevant and teach some basic social skills. Children are required to go to school, but today so many of them resist learning that it makes teaching a struggle. Let’s focus on creative, interesting, outside-the-box teaching about unity, community and survival. Those few who aspire to learn academic content will be enabled to strive toward higher education. In the meantime, let’s focus on the vast apathetic majority.

    • Virala permalink
      June 13, 2012 pm30 1:06 pm 1:06 pm

      .. Why can’t YOU be my teacher? XDD Sorry but i completely agree with what your saying. I’m tired of being taught to take a test– i want to learn things that are relevant to what I want to do in life! I love school, I love learning, but the regents is just screwing teachers and students over.

  6. NYS HS graduate & parent of a HS teen permalink
    March 26, 2010 am31 3:17 am 3:17 am

    i think having standardized testing is a great idea in theory…however, reality is quite different, of course. the problem lies with those who are choosing what and how much is being tested…therefore, revamping the regents program in its entirety, or doing away with them and getting on board with an association that has a better program would be optimal for students, teachers and parents.

    • March 29, 2010 pm31 2:23 pm 2:23 pm

      I think the situation is sad. And I think you are 100% correct.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    March 26, 2010 pm31 7:50 pm 7:50 pm

    that is bullshit, discontinuing translation of regents into russian? Holy cow, how long does it take them then? I was gonna take russian in 12th grade when its available since I already understand it. But if it’s just gonna be french or spanish to me then I won’t get my damn advanced regents exam since I can’t take all three years now. I’m screwed if they don’t finish the Russian regents! HOSHIZNETS!!

    • March 29, 2010 pm31 2:20 pm 2:20 pm

      1. It’s not going to happen.
      2. Why did you delay taking the regents? …толко смерть и налогов, right?
      3. The translation of other regents (ex, Physics or US History) into foreign languages would save them a little, and if they needed to make shallower cuts, I believe that they would start there, rather than the elimination of entire exams. But just my guess.

    • Thomas Schoeck permalink
      March 31, 2010 pm31 7:07 pm 7:07 pm

      Anonymous, take a deep breath, please.

      The bad news is that there is no Russian Regents exam…just French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. The only Regents exams translated into Russian are the required math, science, and social studies titles.

      The good news is that the absence of a Regents exam in Russian shouldn’t keep any student with three years of the language attaining at Checkpoint B in the curriculum from being awarded a Regents diploma, if the school knows what it’s doing.

      • April 1, 2010 pm30 9:59 pm 9:59 pm

        Hmm. I missed that… I know that there are several “less common” foreign language regents… now I see that there are German, Hebrew, Italian, and Latin (as well as French and Spanish).

        I guess I just expected to see Russian there…

      • Nina Mantelman permalink
        April 17, 2010 pm30 2:12 pm 2:12 pm

        I would like to know if there would be regents in Russian, or it’s cancelled for this year.

        • April 17, 2010 pm30 6:08 pm 6:08 pm

          There was no Regents in Russian scheduled. There was none last year or the year before. I would not expect one any time soon.

  8. May 5, 2010 am31 4:40 am 4:40 am

    I doubt that they will actaully go ahead with this.

  9. megan permalink
    May 10, 2010 am31 11:36 am 11:36 am

    I’m in 8th grade and although I only have two regents and they will be my first the same things that you have said can be said about ELA tests. I finished all the state tests this year in less then twenty minutes and sat doing nothing for almost an hour after. It was a complete waste of my time. Plus waste of taxes.

  10. Pissedoffstudent permalink
    September 2, 2010 am30 2:25 am 2:25 am

    The regents exams are crap! Im heading to tenth grade and last year in ninth grade I took the algebra and earth science regents.algebra regents were great they had questions that challenged me and I passed it. But the earth science regents I failed, most of the stuff my teacher never covered dure to not enough time and to much to teach. All im saying is that regents are a waste of time on the entire school year and a waste of money on the school budget. Students should not depend on a huge exam all year while dealing with other high school assignments.

  11. ihateregents permalink
    September 6, 2010 pm30 12:57 pm 12:57 pm

    I’m in 10th grade now, I took chem regents last year. Let me tell you, that was IMPOSSIBLE and i go to a specialized school that’s “better than the rest”! There were so many topics we didn’t discuss! I got away with a 66, thank you God!
    Down with the regents!

    • Anonymous permalink
      December 3, 2010 am31 10:51 am 10:51 am

      nothing is impossible and the regents are not very hard, that being said I still do not think the regents should be kept in place because a lot of the kids who pass really have not learned anything and gain a false sense of security, and there not prepared because now the grades to pass have been lowered and the curves are higher, which lets students who should not pass, to pass

    • RegentFreeNYC permalink
      August 18, 2011 am31 9:42 am 9:42 am

      /|\ the regents are not very hard
      You OBVIOUSLY did not take the Chemistry Regents.

      The Chemistry regents is ridiculous…I had two friends who just took college chemistry courses look at the test. They said there is no way they would have passed it. I printed out the standards and they are about 3 to 4 times the amount of other subjects.

      By the way….. It is THEY’RE and not THERE……

  12. Cearra permalink
    May 18, 2011 am31 11:55 am 11:55 am

    i like my exams! there not even that hard, it makes us stand out as a state! But unfortunatly my school is going to suffer because the stupid government is cutting the winter exams! So now to be a student who recives high honors i have to retake my algebra in my senior year. your cutting the things that make a difference. What happend to school being about the kids, your future? New York continues to go down the drain, and will continue it our ‘wonderful’ state contnues to cut from their future. Cut some teacher not our classes!

  13. RegentFreeNYC permalink
    August 18, 2011 am31 9:32 am 9:32 am

    I teach at a public NYC High School. The regents are absurd. Other states do not have the
    rigorous high stakes testing that New York scalds into our students. Students have enough to worry about with the SATs and other college bound tests. I taught Chemistry and Earth Science this past year and was constantly rushed/stressed to get material covered for the regents.

    Has there ever been a survey of students from other states taking the NY regents? I guarantee you, there would be about a 10% pass rate for Chemistry and other subjects.

    DUMP THE REGENTS… There are many other relevant/interesting topics that cannot be taught.

  14. Virala permalink
    June 13, 2012 pm30 1:02 pm 1:02 pm

    Personally, I’d love it if they got rid of the regents. I’m in eleventh grade, and I find them ridiculous. because of the standards, my school practically has to teach for the test. And some people just AREN’T good test takers, myself included. I’m an AP Honors student, heck i skipped two grades, and yet the regents always throw me for loops– last year I failed the Trigonometry regents, because half of the stuff ONE there we’d never been taught. Most of my entire class failed that exam.
    Other states don’t even LOOK at the regents when your getting accepted to a college! The one i applied for in Colorado doesn’t even CARE that I failed a trig regents once! Why can’t we just drop them? All they do is provide students with a horrible amount of stress. We already have finals in most classes– but a final AND a regents, AND a midterm is rather ridiculous, not to mention the AP exams…
    Oh ignore my blathering. Go on, nothing to see. No, of course that Regents didn’t eat a few students just move along.

  15. Brok permalink
    June 20, 2012 pm30 1:35 pm 1:35 pm

    Hm. I’m a bit iffy about Regents. My parents used to talk about how much they loved them. The reason was that they could blow off as much school as they liked, come in at the end of the year, take the regents, and the school would be forced to give them an A. When I went to high school, I attended one of the few schools which did not use regents. Instead, we were required to graduate using a portfolio system. Something like a thesis defense for every subject. It had its plusses and minuses- better students were held to a higher standard, which was irritating as hell (as one of the better students). I got my hands on some of the regents at one point- the math and the english ones. They were laughable. I was of the opinion that if one could not pass these, one should not be allowed to pass high school.

  16. Arismendy Cruz permalink
    June 28, 2013 pm30 5:34 pm 5:34 pm

    I really think they should dump the regents because I’m going to be a senior for a SECOND YEAR and I have all credits and want to be in College now but I can’t because these dumb regents are holding me back. I think if Regents were cancelled then a lot MORE students in NYC will graduate a lot more than now, some students drops out because their very stress with these exams, and I know because I’m on of them. If regents were cancelled than I’ll be done with High School now I’ll have my diploma and I’ll be in College.

    • June 29, 2013 am30 2:15 am 2:15 am

      Your right man this regents sucks I hate it because these test are holding the future of student so your right they should take it off

  17. June 29, 2013 am30 2:12 am 2:12 am

    They should take all the regents out because there some kids who still haven’t pass a regents that affects them going to college and another reason is why are we the only state that take it that’s not fair. So they should just take it out

  18. Gloria Johnson-Hovey permalink
    January 26, 2017 pm31 2:36 pm 2:36 pm

    They should be dumped! I have been working in education for over 30 years.
    There is no evidence that taking the regents and passing advances anyone more than what they would have without taking it.
    There is no evidence that those who do not take them are worse off.
    It is a waste of time for those who know and cruel and unusual punishment for those who do not.
    It is awful to watch students take this exam 2-4 times who are not retaking it to improve their score…but are retaking it because they are struggling profoundly in passing it.
    Why do we as a matter of course and tradition continue to buy into the “need” for this exam.
    As educators and parents we need to see this for the lunacy that it is and STOP IT!
    Success is not measured by this nor does it predict later success in life.


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