No matter what track the coronavirus pandemic takes, two things are clear: It has claimed another victim and it could have another deleterious effect on education in New York state.
The Regents examinations scheduled for January have been canceled statewide due to safety concerns over COVID-19.
Regents exams are standardized tests taken by high-school students in New York to test their proficiency in specific core subject areas, but that is not all. The exams are an important measurement of qualification for college scholarships, a university education and a future job or career.
Sad to say, the narrative is identical to all past cancellations.
“Throughout the pandemic our priority has been the health and well-being of our students and educators,” Interim State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said Thursday. “We determined the January Regents exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the state given where the pandemic currently stands.”
The exams were tentatively scheduled to be administered Jan. 26 through Jan. 29, according to an Aug. 20 memo from Steven E. Katz, assistant commissioner in the state Education Department’s Office of State Assessment. The office will continue to monitor data on the pandemic and the virus’ impact on schools before making any decisions on other assessments and exams.
State education officials are taking steps to minimize the impact the cancellation of the January exams will have on students.
They plan to propose modifications to high-school diploma requirements. Under the proposed changes, students who planned to take Regents exams in January will be exempt from the requirements to pass the exams to earn a high-school diploma as long as they meet certain requirements established by the board.
Students exempted from the exam due to the cancellation will not be affected in their eligibility for Honors or Mastery endorsement on their diploma.
High-school graduates who earn a certain grade on all Regents examinations they take may be eligible for honors endorsement on their diploma, and the canceled January exam will not have an effect on that classification.
The requirements established by education officials should not hold students responsible for something over which they had no control. The requirements should be strictly followed by colleges and universities so as not to punish students prevented from taking the exams. And the requirements should be committed to transparency, fair play and integrity.