[lg policy] New York: State Mulls Cutting Number of Regents Exams, including foreign language exams

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 10 14:56:14 UTC 2010

.Y. State Mulls Cutting Number of Regents Exams
By Peter Simon, The Buffalo News, N.Y. (MCT)

State education officials are considering eliminating a wide range of
Regents examinations, New York's traditional measure of high school
student achievement. The contingency plan would eliminate all Regents
exams in foreign languages, three of four Regents exams in science and
two of three in math. Regents exams would no longer be given in global
history and geography or U.S. history and government.

The proposal, part of a package that would save $13.7 million, will be
discussed by a Board of Regents committee Monday afternoon. But the
plan fails to answer a host of crucial questions:

• What would become of the state's all-Regents high school graduation standards?

• How would it be determined whether students should receive course credit?

• Without standardized Regents exams, how can student performance be
compared between individual schools and between school districts?

State Education Commissioner David Steiner described the contingency
plan as part of a broader look at the department's budget crunch, and
not an indication that Regents exams will actually be scaled back.

"We're saying: 'Here's our budget situation,'" Steiner said. "'Here
are our challenges.' There is no implication that any particular line
of action be recommended. This is about budget information that is
accurate and transparent."

With the state facing a severe fiscal crisis, it is important that the
Regents understand "what the key elements are and what they cost,"
Steiner said.

The proposal also would stop giving Regents exams in January and
August, making the tests available only in June.

It also would no longer let students take retests on particular
portions of math and English exams they previously fell short on. The
practice of translating tests into Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean and
Russian also would end.

"It's mind-boggling that they would propose this," said John D.
Carlino, executive director of the New York State Association of
Foreign Language Teachers and a German teacher at Kenmore West High
School. "How could this possibly be real?"

The proposed cuts would "literally gut standards-based education in
New York and could potentially cost thousands of teachers their jobs
if courses and exams that were always required no longer were,"
Carlino said. "What is being proposed is a scaling back of the New
York State assessments to the bare minimum that is required by the
federal No Child Left Behind Act."

Regent Robert Bennett, a resident of the Town of Tonawanda, said the
contingency plan results from a request from the Regents for "a very
straightforward picture" of the cost and effectiveness of a broad
range of state Education Department programs.

"I think this will get a lot of good discussion," he said.

Bennett said the review will likely tweak the Regents program by
placing greater emphasis on critical thinking skills or vocational
training, but will not result in the wholesale elimination of Regents

For example, he said, if only a small number of students benefit from
the retesting on portions of Regents exams, "there must be a better
way to help students" and save money at the same time.

"We're still going to have measurements of student achievement and
report them to the public," Bennett said. "I can't envision us
abandoning those exams."

The Regents program hasn't been closely examined for 11 years, "and
it's worth a look," Bennett said.

A memo to the Regents from John B. King Jr., senior deputy
commissioner of the state Education Department, calls the measures
"contingency plans and options for the board's consideration to reduce
operating costs" in 2010-11. "We have not included any actions that
would compromise our compliance with No Child Left Behind
requirements," King said.

King said the state and federal budgets are among the "many variables
that may impact our future choices."

The need for cuts also will depend on whether New York receives
funding in the first round of the federal government's $4.35 billion
"Race to the Top" grant program, King said. New York this week was
named one of 16 finalists for a share of that money.

In a letter to a member of the Board of Regents, Joanne E. O'Toole,
past president of the New York State Association of Foreign Language
Teachers, said there would be "potentially devastating effects" to
eliminating Regents exams in foreign languages.

"Eliminating our assessments would serve to lower, if not destroy, the
high standards we have set for the students of New York State," said
O'Toole, a language teacher at two State University of New York
campuses. "In addition, we would lose our place in the country as
leaders in foreign language education."

Copyright (c) 2010, The Buffalo News, N.Y. Distributed by
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


[Moderator's note: This is personally sad for me, since I took New
York's  Latin 3rd year, and German 2nd year exams in mid-year,
and passed with flying colors, which enabled me to get more high
school credits in other subjects, such as French.  (hs)]
N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
(H. Schiffman, Moderator)

For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to

This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list