Regents exam optional this year

With the amount of rapid adaptation students have been put through this past year, the State of New York decided in March to cancel the Regents exam graduation requirement for students.

Even though third through eighth graders still must take the exam, according to school superintendent Patrick Dee, they have shortened the exam for those grades and given parents with students at the high school level the option to opt-out of the exam. Dee spoke about how the cancellation of the exam will affect the district at the Whitehall Board of Education’s April meeting.

“The unique thing about both the three through eight assessments as well as the Regents exams is there is no benefit to taking them, there is no accountability for the student on how they score and how students score has no accountability measures on the school district,” he said.

Even though the exam is not mandatory as a graduation requirement this year, parents are still able to opt their students in for the exam if they wish. Dee added they haven’t seen many parents signing students up for the exam.

“In absence this year, any student that wants to take the Regents or sit through the three to eight assessment, they are doing it just for fun,” Dee said. “It makes little to no sense that they are being required but as I said, they literally mean nothing for the student or for the school.”

The district is still required to offer the exam even though the scores will not be held at the same standard as prior years.

“The students that wish to take an exam for some reason, say in particular the Regents level they wish to write a higher score, let’s say an 85 or higher because they need for mastery in their science or math, they may want to sit that exam to get the mastery sticker on form,” he said.

Even though the exam is not being used as graduation requirement, some students and parents may be concerned about what this means for their child if they are looking to attend college in the fall. With Castleton University being close to home, students won’t have to worry about not being accepted without the exam.

Castleton’s dean of enrollment, Maurice Ouimet, spoke about the changes in standards for students applying for a seat at the university. Ouimet discussed that students have faced some of the hardest challenges in the history of education this past year and wants students thinking about applying to know they are looking past the exam.

“We’ve been very sympathetic to this generation of students,” he said. “You know certainly last year’s graduating class, this year’s graduating class and even rising seniors, rising juniors, everybody been, including our college and university students, it’s been the biggest disruption.”

Ouimet mentioned that the university hasn’t been worried about the exam for New York applicants and applicants across the United States. Rather than focusing on students’ test scores, the admissions office has focused on other forms of success during a student’s high school career.

“We’re really looking carefully at a student’s transcript, how they performed in the course, looking at their letters of recommendation and personal statements and really try to gather as much information as we can from those sources,” he said.

“We even at Castleton relaxed the SAT and ACT requirement for the last two recruitments cycles too because it’s just been so hard for students to take the test and they have canceled them in many locations and a lot of students don’t have the resources to be able to travel the distance that they need to where it’s being offered so we’ve just been trying to be as supportive and understanding as we can,” he said.