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State to allow some students to substitute grades for Regents

City high school seniors who needed to take a Regents exam to graduate this month with a local diploma will not need to reschedule the test, state education officials announced today.

Instead, those students will be able to use passing course grades to fulfill their graduation requirements. Students are normally required to take five Regents exams to graduate. Students must score above a 55 for the test to be counted towards a local diploma; for the more rigorous Regents diploma, they must reach the 65 mark.

Seniors who want to earn a Regents diploma must wait to re-take the exams in June, the next time they are offered. The January tests that would have been given today will not be re-administered. This raises the stakes for some seniors who plan to graduate in June by reducing the number of opportunities they have to pass the exam this year.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner encouraged students to wait and sit for the exams later in the year. “We hold a Regents Diploma as the goal for all,” he said in a statement. “However, this is the fairest course of action for the seniors affected this week.”

City and state officials spent the day discussing how to accommodate students who needed to take exams today to graduate as planned.

“We are pleased the State took this step that will alow those seniors with sufficient credits and coursework to graduate this month,” Chancellor Cathie Black said in a statement. “However, we fully understand how disappointing it must be to all of those students who studied so hard for their Regents exams, and for the teachers and parents who worked with them.”

City officials estimated that between 400 and 500 students would benefit from the state’s decision. Last year, just under 3,500 students graduated between January and May. Of those students, roughly 400 used the winter Regents exams to fulfill graduation requirements.

The solution is similar to one offered in 2004, the last time city students missed January Regents exams because of snow.

Regents exams are normally administered three times a year, in January, June and August.

STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES:
SOME SENIORS CAN USE COURSE GRADES TO GRADUATE
AS REGENTS EXAMS ARE CANCELED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER;
NEXT ADMINISTRATION IN JUNE

The State Education Department announced today that seniors who were scheduled to take Regents exams this week and were unable to do so because their schools were closed by inclement weather may use passing course grades (per local policy) to meet the requirements for a local diploma. This option is being allowed only for the small number of seniors for whom passing grades on Regents exams not available this week due to inclement weather would represent their only outstanding requirement for January 2011 graduation.

Education Commissioner David Steiner said, “We hold a Regents Diploma as the goal for all; however, this is the fairest course of action for the seniors affected this week. I urge all the affected students to come back in June to earn the scores they need for a Regents diploma.”

This announcement today follows the precedent established in January 2004 – the last time such a large number of students were affected by school closures during a Regents examination period. A final count of seniors exercising this option will be determined as principals and superintendents audit coursework and grading policies to establish student eligibility and report to the State Education Department.

All students unable to take exams due to school closures this week are reminded that the next scheduled administration of the exams is in June. January exams are offered in approximately 1600 schools statewide and account for approximately 15 percent of all Regents exams administered in a year. To ensure that students have multiple opportunities to take the Regents exams, New York offers them three times a year. The Department views the January Regents examination period as primarily a makeup testing opportunity for students.

Public, non-public and charter school officials will receive further details in a guidance memo from the Office of State Assessment tomorrow.

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