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State announces new graduation requirements after cancellation of regents exams

Posted at 11:30 AM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 17:54:30-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Monday, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced regents exams set to take place in June were canceled. On Tuesday, the department announced new graduation requirements to reflect the cancellation of those exams.

For students, ready to graduate in New York State, no regents exams, doesn't translate to no regents diploma.

"We’ve been working day and night, not only on the education side but on the health side," Western New York regents representative, Dr. Catherine Collins, said.

A student must meet at least one of several requirements listed in order to earn an exam exemption.

The education department has modified diploma, credential and endorsement requirements for students who were enrolled in grades 7 through 12 in the 2019-2020 school year and intended to take a June 2020 regents exam.

Those students will be exempted from passing June 2020 assessments in order to receive a diploma. The education department says students must meet one of these eligibility requirements in order to qualify for the exemption:

  • The student is currently enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and will have earned credit in such course of study by the end of the 2019-20 school year; or
  • The student is in grade 7, is enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and will have passed such course of study by the end of the 2019-20 school year; or
  • The student is currently enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and has failed to earn credit by the end of the school year. Such student returns for summer instruction to make up the failed course and earn the course credit and is subsequently granted diploma credit in August 2020; or
  • The student was previously enrolled in the course of study leading to an applicable Regents examination, has achieved course credit, and has not yet passed the associated Regents examination but intended to take the test in June 2020 to achieve a passing score.

The complete NYSED guidance is available here.

"Right now it’s very difficult to put things in concrete, so things are pretty fluid until we know where we’re going in the next few months," Dr. Collins said. She said it is more important now than ever for parents to continue navigating and engaging their children to succeed under these circumstances. As for students, Dr. Collins said stay disciplined. And those with questions, she suggests calling the school for answers.

"All in all, I think it’s a good day, a good decision and the process seems very clear to me," Niagara Falls City Schools Superintendent, Mark Laurrie, said. He echoes Dr. Collins' recommendations to parents and students while adding he thinks the requirements are “workable” and given with plenty of time for students to complete.

"Students in grades 8-11 who are registered in a regents course already just need to do the work that has been put online for them or given to them through the written packet form. If they successfully do that work, completed with proficiency, they are going to earn the regents credit," he said.

While Laurrie communicates with his district through phone calls and taped youtube messages, he said he feels his district of more than 7,000 students is prepared. He adds this is just one education hurdle cleared with many more to go.

"We still need more guidance, and this is a health decision, whether we could go forward with a graduation ceremony, prom, post prom, class day, all very important rites of passage," Laurrie said.

The board continues to look towards the state on guidance for activities set in June and August. Dr. Collins said a decision on August regents exams hasn’t been made yet and to expect a separate announcement on this matter down the road.

The Board of Regents has announced it will delay the implementation of the Next Generation ELA and Mathematics state assessments to Spring 2022. The 2019-2020 assessments were not given in schools because of the pandemic.

New York State United Teachers Union is backing Tuesday's decision, releasing this statement.
“This is the right decision that will allow our students and their families to first and foremost focus on being safe and healthy without having to stress about preparing for traditional end-of-year exams this June. We thank Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, the Board and the Department for putting students first with changes to state exam requirements that still allow their hard work toward achieving a diploma to be recognized without penalizing them during this unprecedented crisis.”