NYS Education Department Cancels January Regents Exams

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York State Education Department has canceled the Regents exam that was scheduled for January 2021, and students will not have to make them up, said interim State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. “The January Regents exams will be canceled since they can’t be administered safely and fairly.”

“Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been the health and wellbeing of our students and educators. We determined the January Regents exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the state given where the pandemic currently stands.”

In canceling January’s exams, the board said that the primary focus during this time of crisis must be providing education rather than assessing it.

New York high school students who were scheduled to take Regents exams in January 2021 will receive the same exemptions that were granted for the June and August exams of 2020, which were also canceled due to the pandemic. No decision has yet been made for the June and August 2021 exams or other statewide assessments that are usually administered in the spring.

In New York State, Regents examinations, which are unique to the state, are state-wide standardized examinations in core high school subjects that students are required to pass in order to earn a Regents diploma, which is unique to New York State.

In order to graduate high school, New York State students must pass Regents exams in five subjects: English language arts, math, science, social studies, and any additional options provided by the state.

Under normal circumstances, students must pass at least five Regents exams to earn high school diplomas. However, with January’s exams canceled, students who are taking courses this semester that would ordinarily culminate with a Regents exam will get full credit for their courses, without having to take the state exam.

Although an interruption in the state’s signature assessment tool is unique, the New York State Education Department has been considering whether to eliminate Regents exams as a requirement to graduate high school since 2019.

Additionally, in January 2020, before COVID hit, the Board of Regents had just begun a two-year review of high-school graduation requirements that included looking at new paths to high-school diplomas that could have changed the role of Regents exams and may affect regulations that the state imposes on yeshivos.

However, that review was shelved when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

“Whether they are engaged in in-school, hybrid or remote learning, we are committed to ensuring [that] each of New York’s students has access to the rigorous coursework necessary to prepare them for success this year and beyond,” said Board of Regents Vice Chancellor Andrew Brown in a statement.

“The cancellation of the January Regents Examinations will not impact that priority.”