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New York Board of Regents eases diploma requirements, votes to cancel most Regents exams

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The New York State Board of Regents voted Monday to cancel all Regents exams for the rest of the year except for four federally mandated exams in English, math, earth science and living environment.

Students will also not be required to take the exams in order to receive their diplomas, the board decided. 

“As we continue to see a global pandemic impact our schools and students in every corner of the state, the Board and I are determined to complete this school year in a manner that protects the health and safety of all of New York’s children,” said Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. 

The board previously petitioned the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to waive all federally mandated exams in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the Biden administration declined to approve a blanket waiver for standardized tests but encouraged schools to administer shortened or modified versions of the exam or extend examination windows. In response, NYSED requested an individual waiver for standardized tests from Washington as is still awaiting a response. 

“While we were disappointed by the USDE decision not to grant blanket waivers for state assessments, we are confident that the regulatory amendments acted on today and other assessment-related actions by the Department provide for the flexibility necessary to meet federal requirements while ensuring the well-being of those in our school buildings,” Young added.

As a result of the vote, if the USDE denies the waiver, only four Regents exams will be administered in the month of June and students in grades 3-8 will only need to sit for one federally required test in English and math test while only one session of the written test component for sciences tests will be administered for those in grades 4-8. 

“The Department continues to engage with USDE in regard to finding the best path forward in offering state assessments for the children of New York,” said NYSED Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “In order to inform these discussions, we are engaging with stakeholders across the state to gain insight on the local approaches to student assessment.  The regulatory amendments advanced today provide fairness for our students; however we remain hopeful that USDE will provide the necessary waivers to allow our educators to remain engaged in the important work of fostering a safe and healthy learning environment for each child in New York state.”

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