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Snow day disrupts Regents exams; city in talks with state

A big question mark hanging over today’s snow closure is what will happen to the high school students who were supposed to take Regents exams this morning.

Students are required to take the exams to graduate, and today’s test date was particularly important for some students hoping to graduate this month. City officials said today that schools ordered nearly 100,000 exams in six subjects, though frequently the number of tests ordered is larger than the number of students who sit for them.

No one seems to know yet exactly when those students will get a chance to take their exams. A GothamSchools reader told us that she spent 45 minutes waiting on 311, the city’s information hotline, this morning, before being told only that today’s administration had been canceled.

“We are in discussion with state education officials about finding a solution for students who were unable to take the Regents exams scheduled for today,” Mayor Bloomberg said during a press conference to discuss the surprise storm. “This is not a problem only for New York City. There are other cities in the southern part of the state that have exactly the same problem.”

A Department of Education spokesman said the city hoped to finalize arrangements with the state today. State policy is typically not to administer make-up Regents exams.

The last time Regents exams were canceled in New York due to snow was in 2009, and the state allowed students either to retake the entire exam or take only the missed second half of the exam in June. In 2004, city seniors who missed Regents exams because of a snow day were allowed to skip the exams altogether, provided that they were seeking only a local diploma and had passed classes in the subjects being tested.

UPDATE: A city spokesman just clarified that the 2009 Regents cancellation did not affect New York City students.

High school math teacher Akil Wilson watched Bloomberg’s press conference this morning and helpfully transcribed an exchange between reporters, the mayor and Chancellor Cathie Black about the exams:

1st Reporter: And so, all of these thousands of people will have to take the exams in June and will have to study for them again? Black: That’s correct. Bloomberg: Well, hopefully if you learned the material, you don’t have to study again? I mean, think about what you’re – they should be learning the material. That’s the whole idea of the test, to see whether you know the material, not whether you can pass the test. 2nd Reporter: The idea is that you can take it three times and pass it with at least a 65, so like, if you are not given that time in January to take it, you fail it in June… Bloomberg: You know — unfortunately, we have a snow storm which we didn’t want, but God gave us. And the state will figure out ways to work it out, for the kids who need to take the test, but learning the material is not a bad idea. As a matter of fact, they’ve got the day free, they can go back to the books, and I’m sure most of them will want to spend this day doing that.

Here’s the list of Regents exam subject that were supposed to have been offered today, and the number of tests ordered in each: