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New York Won’t Require Regents Exams for Graduation

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

Regents exams will no longer be a graduation requirement for New York State students.

The State Department of Education announced the change several months after reviewing the findings of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures. Education advocates are grateful since studies show no evidence exit exams increase student achievement or raise a high school diploma’s value.

Juliet Eisenstein, assistant director of the Post-Secondary Readiness Project at Advocates for Children of New York, said there are alternatives for students to demonstrate proficiency with their coursework.

“Those can include capstone learning experiences. They can include credentials that already exist like biliteracy credentials. It could include a performance-based assessment, a CTE program,” Eisenstein outlined.

The options depend on the subject area and what students feel best display their knowledge of each subject. Though Regents exams will not be a graduation requirement, students will still have to take them to meet federal Every Student Succeeds Act requirements. A timeline is slated to come in the fall but Eisenstein pointed out it will be a while before this goes into effect.

Students would still be able to use Regents exams to show their proficiency in a certain subject but other options will also be available. The exams do not meet all students’ needs, particularly those with learning disabilities. In her work with students, Eisenstein argued high-stakes exams push kids away from high school graduation.

“This idea that Regents exams help prepare students for high school is kind of a myth,” Eisenstein contended. “In fact, exit exams tend to increase high school dropout rates particularly for students of color and for students from low-income neighborhoods”

Analysis of graduation data from 11,000 school districts over a decade found dropout rates for 12th graders were 23% higher in states requiring exit exams without alternative paths to graduation.