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FAQ on Regents Tests

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 04:00 AM

The Regents tests administered by the New York State Education Department begin on June 11. The full schedule is here. SchoolBook interviewed Kim Nauer, the education project director at the Center for New York City Affairs and contributor to Inside Schools, on what parents need to know about the tests that determine if a student may graduate from high school.

Why does the state give the Regents tests? What is the goal?

We actually have one of the oldest exams systems in the country. It was always meant to be an exit exam so that we know that students have a certain amount of knowledge before leaving high school. And it's still that. In fact that role has become more important because with the focus on standardized testing the Regents are essentially the standardized tests for high school. They are a series of tests that gives the state confidence that we’re actually graduating students with a minimum level of knowledge to succeed in the world.

What are the minimum and maximum numbers of Regents a student can take?

In New York State there are five Regents exams you are required to take. You must score a 65 or over to pass. The exams include English, which kids typically take in their junior year, one mathematics exam, two social studies exams -- Global History/Geography and U.S. History and Government -- and then one science exam. Usually, kids take Earth Science or Living Environment. That’s typically what kids do in New York City and they graduate with what’s called a Regents Diploma. They can’t graduate without it. There are exceptions or accommodations for some special education students.

Is the Regents diploma the highest diploma a student can receive?

No. There is a more prestigious diploma. The Advanced Regents Diploma goes to students who got a 65 or higher on all the ones we talked about plus they did two more Regents in mathematics and one more exam in science and one in a foreign language Regents of their choosing. A lot of us in the field feel like the Advanced Regents is the one that truly means something in terms of college preparation. It’s a good thing to see many high school students graduating with Advanced Regents. It means their schools use college preparatory curriculum, the courses are there and the kids are passing them.

Can we see what a Regents exam looks like?

Yes. The nice thing about the Regents exams, as a parent and student, is you have a nice wealth of material you can work from in terms of preparing for it. The tests are a mix of multiple choice and essay questions.

Which is the hardest test?

The one people fail most often is Global History because, I think, it’s just a lot to memorize. In terms of those higher tests which college-bound kids take, they get harder and harder. Each step is somewhat more rigorous.

What if you fail a Regents?

It’s not a big deal. You’re allowed to keep taking them. This is something many many kids in New York City public schools deal with and is part of my expertise. I watch these kids’ test-taking patterns. So you can take it again and take it again until you get a score that you like. The two things that we’re emphasizing is, yes, you have to keep taking it until you reach 65. And the other important thing we're saying to all students is that 65 is not good enough anymore. You really want to get a 75 on your ELA and an 80 on your math Regents exams because that will exempt you from having to take remedial courses at CUNY.

If a middle school student takes a Regents test will they have to re-take it in high school?

No. If you complete Algebra, for example, there is a series of other mathematics Regents exams a student can take in high school.

How big a problem is cheating on the Regents?

I don't know exactly what the state and city have been doing lately. I know there is computer technology to spot cheating (erasure marks and suspicious patterns), so it is within the state's power to spot and reduce problems of teachers and administrators doctoring the tests. The state has also started to require that teachers do not mark their own students' tests, as they have in the past. And principals have told me that there are much stricter record-keeping, handling and delivery requirements, so that it would be easy to figure out who doctored a test, if this was discovered.

As for student cheating, there are rules restricting cell phones and other things in the test room. Parents should talk to their principal about the rules and procedures ahead of time.

Is there a push to change which Regents exams are required?

The Regents exams have been fairly stable in recent years but that’s going to change big time. The Common Core learning standards are being introduced to high school as we speak. And then the first set of Common Core-aligned Regents exams are going to start next June. So this June the kids are all going to take normal exams but by next June they’re going to be taking Common Core-aligned English and Algebra I exams, followed by the others shortly thereafter. We haven’t seen any samples yet of the aligned exams but they are supposed to start releasing samples imminently.

Are you foreseeing an end to the Regents exams?

It’s the big question that everybody asks. People are really waiting to see what the PARCC (the 22-state consortium working on shared education standards and tests) develops but they’ve been putting a lot of work into these tests and so I suspect, if I had to bet my house, we’ll adopt the PARCC assessments unless there’s some really overwhelming reason not to. That said, when I look at some of the sample questions for the 10-grade English exam they are so far and away more rigorous than what we have today that it makes me wonder if it would be wise. That is sort of down the road but the big next story is what are the next high school assessments going to look like?

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Comments [13]

Melinda Gay from Willsboro, NY

For those of you struggling with NYS graduation standards, please join my campaign to make a change!! I am the parent of a child with a disability, and there needs to be change! We need to raise awareness. I have 100% support from Senator Little and permission to say so. You can find the cause and information at https://www.facebook.com/equalopportunityeducation

Mar. 24 2014 02:44 PM
olivia from queens ny

Im now a senior for the second time my mom has done everything but these tests are really getting the best of some of the nyc students I mean I go to a yabc Program because Im just too embarrassed to go back to my old school and Ive seen kids who's about to be 21 and just need one more regents even there grades close and can't graduate It's just not fair for these kids and myself..please look into this

Feb. 09 2014 11:07 PM
Jose Oliveras from Bronx, NY

I got a 63 last year and recently a 64 my Global History Regent. Is there anything i can do, a regrading or something?
Jose from NYC

Feb. 04 2014 11:14 AM
Gabriella from Queens,NY

I am a B+ student and I have not passed the algebra regents and i am a senior in high school, if I took the test four years already with no progress don't you think the teachers aren't helping at all. I don't think it's fair that NY has to take these regents, if I don't pass I will never graduate which is degrading actually, these regents should be taken away. The high school graduating rate is already low enough, regents are not helping at all. The New York school system of education has no idea what it is like, they believe it will help us in the future for college yet colleges don't even look at regents. It ridiculous, it is completely not fair for the students.

Feb. 03 2014 01:09 AM
March from NYC

Is it possible to take a regents exam without taking the class? I am a freshman at a high school in NYC, and I was wondering about that because I feel that I can take the US history regents and pass with high grades without taking the test. Also if I take the exam, then I have enough periods to take a class I wish to take during my junior year.

Thanks,

A concerned student

Jan. 31 2014 04:08 PM
Sher

So i took the algebra regents last year and got a decent score of 73 ish, if i take it again this year and fail it or get a lower score, will they take the score that is higher ?

Jan. 26 2014 11:08 PM
mithas

my son who is currently a senior wants to take physics and chemistry regents but his pvt school does not offer regents. how can he register for the two jan2014 regents. do not want to go thru the school district he belongs to

Dec. 16 2013 09:00 PM
Kristine from Queens

Please i am looking for some advice, My daughter is a junior in high school here in ny city. So fr she has passed all of her required regents except for the math. She has taken it 3x already and failed. Since grammar school she has always been poor in math and every city test that they give she scores very low. What can be done? If it was not for math she is a straight B student? Its not fair the her graduation is in limbo for the math regents!!
Colleges out of Ny dont even really look at the regents...
I am so upset and frustrated, any help would be appreciated!

Sep. 18 2013 09:44 AM
Bob from New york

If i fail the regents and pass the class do i stay in the same class? Or advance to the next course

Aug. 29 2013 08:39 PM
April from Lindley, New York

I took my US history exam and scored a 84, is that passing or no because my school's making me retake the class over. I'm suppose to be a high school graduate.

Aug. 25 2013 10:19 PM
Woafa said from Schenectady, ny

I go to Schenectady high school and I failed the gh tests twice. I am really upset!!!!!!😢😢😢😢 I really love school!!! I want to go to college. It's upsetting on how you fail a regents exam more than one time. I'm going to 11 grade this year. My question is can I do vo tech this year even though I failed the regents!!! This sometimes makes me depressed because I am a straight a and b student!!!! Please just email back and give some advices!!!!!! Thank u

Aug. 20 2013 04:21 PM
alan

my son got a 64 on his chem regents at south side middle school , rockville centre, LI.

he has a consistant 90+ in the course for the year,
the problem is , he doesn't test well, he has anxiety issues.
the school is telling us that he needs to repeat the class and take the test this coming year??

they would not give him the 1 point?

pls advise, what the law?

thanks

Aug. 12 2013 08:33 PM
Dee Washington from Portchester NY

What to do if my son took the global 6 times and fail, we did everything to get him prepared. Tutoring .......,he wasn't allowed to walk, and now if he don't pass in August 2013 he will be not be able to start college. Please anyone give me some advice on what to do, it just not fair. We went to the school, and the superintendent of the school and nobody can help.

Jul. 10 2013 01:24 PM

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