September 2011
August 31, 2011

Only short-term fix for January Regents

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

While NYSUT is pleased students will now have the opportunity to take Regents Exams in January, the union is troubled by what seems to be a short-term fix, says NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira.

The January Regents exams will be reinstated statewide after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he and five anonymous donors will chip in $250,000 each to cover the cost to administer the exams.

The donation may be the nation's first private effort to pay for standardized tests, according to The New York Times.

"Since students have to pass these exams to graduate or earn an advanced diploma, it's clearly the state's responsibility to fund the testing program," Neira said. "SED certainly can't depend on philanthropists to sustain the state's testing program and must work with the Legislature to find a long-term solution to the funding shortfall."

State officials decided in May to cancel the January round of tests, citing a shortfall in the State Education Department testing program. Numerous other tests, including foreign language Regents and grades 5 and 8 social studies exams have also been eliminated due to a lack of funding.

The elimination of the January Regents came under fire from NYSUT, education leaders, principals' groups and many others who pointed out that thousands of students depend on the mid-year exams to meet graduation requirements or earn an advanced designation diploma. Nearly 2,400 of the 3,454 students who graduated in New York City between January and March of 2011 relied on the January exams to earn their diplomas. Bloomberg said a large proportion of these students represented the city's ethnic minorities, as well as its most vulnerable populations, including students who have returned to school after dropping out, students with disabilities and English language learners.

The January Regents exams will be administered from Jan. 24-27, 2012. Details of the testing remain uncertain. Tom Dunn, an SED spokesman, said the $1.5 million should be enough to cover 16 exams and tests in English, history, math and science.