The January New York Regents exams will be canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced interim state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa last Thursday.
Normally most students have to pass at least five Regents exams to earn a high school diploma. But the state Education Department’s announcement clarified that the exam will not be required in order to attain high school diplomas.
“Throughout the pandemic our priority has been the health and well-being of our students and educators,” said Rosa in a statement. “We determined the January Regents Exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the State given where the pandemic currently stands.”
There are two levels of diplomas for graduating high school in New York state: a Regents diploma and an Advanced Regents diploma. The latter requires a score of 65 or higher on five exams. The type of diploma a student earns winds up on his or her academic transcript to be viewed by colleges, although parents say that it plays a more important role at state schools than elsewhere.
CUNY and SUNY colleges normally look at the Regents to determine the course level that college students start with in general education programs.
Some specialized programs will take the tests into consideration to see whether students who are applying have demonstrated the necessary skills on the tests.
Now college admissions will hinge more on a student’s grades, college advisors say.
“The class grades are basically the be-all-end-all. That improves the graduation rate. It’s controversial. It’s good, but some people say that the kids are not prepared,” said John Castellano, a college application tutor based in Oakland Gardens. “Some people say this proves kids don’t need Regents and others are saying the jury’s out, let’s see what happens when these kids leave college.”
Even before the announcement, CUNY schools did not require the Regents as part of the admission process. The schools used students’ high school academic records as a basis for admission, but ACT or SAT scores could be used to prove proficiency in certain subjects like math and English in place of the state exams.
“The general consensus from college advisors is your grades and your essay mean more nowadays than ever, and the main thing colleges want to see with your essay is what you’ve been doing during coronavirus,” Castellano said.