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Lawmakers divided over future of regents exams amid education reform proposals

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  • Staff Report 

New York state legislators are divided over the proposal to eliminate the Regents exams, a staple of the state’s education system since the 1990s.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures, backed by the state Education Department, has recommended doing away with these standardized tests and revising graduation requirements.

Over the next few months, the department will explore 12 key recommendations to modernize high school diploma qualifications, including a shift towards hands-on assessments and expanded career and technical education opportunities.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Proposed changes, expected to take over a year to implement, include adding requirements in ethics, financial literacy, arts, STEM, and practical writing skills, along with options for specialized seals or endorsements in certain areas. However, the changes have sparked concerns about potentially lowering the state’s educational standards.

Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Pat Fahy expressed reservations about the reduction of standardized testing, fearing it might lower educational standards and widen existing disparities. Meanwhile, Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer believes reevaluating the state’s approach to testing is not about lowering standards but ensuring high academic value.

As the debate continues, the Legislature is set to appoint six members to the Board of Regents by March 31, 2024, who will play a key role in shaping the state’s education policy. State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa has emphasized the importance of diverse assessment methods over traditional testing, framing the conversation as an essential reevaluation of how student learning is measured.