After over a year of non-traditional school, students have not been able to learn the curriculum in a way that is compatible with a normal school year. While it can be argued that students have become more independent learners as a result of online learning, students have also grown accustomed to a different type of revising and test-taking. And so when the New York State Education Department announced that the Regents would not be required this year, many felt a huge wave of relief.
In New York State, the Regents are standardized examinations in core subjects that all students are required to take to graduate high school. Due to COVID-19, this year only four Regents exams will be administered throughout the state. Scarsdale High School plans to offer three – English Language Arts, Living Environment, and Algebra I. Students, however, will no longer be required to take these tests to graduate. “A score of ‘E’ recorded for a Regents exam will fulfill the graduation requirement for that Regents exam as long as the student has achieved a passing grade in the corresponding course… Scores for Regents exams will not affect students’ course grades, nor will they appear on any transcripts sent to colleges,” explained Principal Bonamo in an email sent to the student body. Essentially, if students choose to not take the Regents, there will be no penalty.
Some Scarsdale community members have experienced concern and confusion around this decision. The Regents are meant to measure if schools have taught the subject matter over the school year, so will the decision of students to not take the test to reflect the school district? Considering the state has announced that the exams will not be used for anything other than for individual test takers to review, it is not of concern. In addition, using standardized tests to measure a school district has long been considered unfair as students from wealthier districts tend to perform better. “I always thought that the regents were a waste of time… they take our time away from studying for other finals at the end of the year, and because everyone in the state has to take the same test, the difficulty is super disproportionate for students in different schools or learning levels,” said Crystal Feng ’22. These disparities may have only increased this year, as students struggle to navigate remote school, access reliable internet, and remain in their houses full time.
Changing the requirements so that passing the Regents will not be required for graduation has relieved the stress of many Scarsdale High School students. Students will have more time to dedicate to other final exams and their mental health after a long year of adjustment. “As long as I don’t have to take a super difficult final instead, I’m all for it,” humorously concluded Jessie Hausman ’22.