New York public school students will continue to be allowed to graduate with lower test scores this school year thanks to a recent decision by state education officials.
The Board of Regents on Tuesday approved an amendment extending a pandemic-era emergency policy that allowed children to appeal failing Regents scores in order to graduate.
“This sends the wrong message to students and families as they begin one of the most important school years in recent history,” said Dia Bryant, executive director of Education Trust New York, a policy and advocacy group. statewide.
More than 400 letters and a petition with 70 signatories were sent to the state opposing the measure, according to a representative from EdTrust, which led the campaign.
“The amendment continues a troubling trend by the Board of Regents to water down graduation standards and raises serious concerns about whether our education system is preparing students for their post-secondary future,” Bryant added.
The nonprofit urged the state to use COVID aid to better support students at risk of not graduating — “instead of making it easier to graduate.”
The state Department of Education has pushed back against criticism that overhauling graduation requirements — including leaving children with failing Regents scores of at least 50 calls — involves “lowering the standards”.
Concurrent with the vote, the state formed a 64-member commission, including Bryant, to consider updating permanent graduation protocols.
The group was formed to “explore what a state degree should mean to ensure educational excellence and equity for every student in New York State,” officials say.
“Our review of state graduation measures is intended to ensure that all students have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a way that best suits them,” said Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. in a statement.
“This job isn’t about lowering the standards, it’s about making sure the standards work for all students in our state,” he added.
Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa called this a “significant milestone” in assessing readiness for high school graduation.
The commission – which begins meeting this fall and will connect “regularly” through the spring of 2024 – aims to develop recommendations to the board on indicators that indicate children are ready for “college, career and civic life”.
The department has made several rule changes regarding Regents exams since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, first canceling standardized tests in 2020. For the 2020-2021 school year, officials allowed children to get graduated without taking any exams, and only required that they pass their Regents-based course by the end of the summer.
Proponents who want to rework graduate requirements note that New York is an exception when it comes to requiring exit exams. About a dozen states administer high school graduation tests, education news source Chalkbeat reported.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Education said it believes the tests can be used as “one of multiple measures of student achievement,” officials said.
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks called the exams ‘important’ but said they played an ‘outsized role’ in public education, to the detriment of other learning and preparation to adult life more difficult to test.