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State scraps August Regents exams amid uncertainty about reopening schools

Leigh Duignan walks to graduation with classmates from The Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology. Alex Zimmerman/Chalkbeat

August Regents exams have been canceled, the New York State education department announced Thursday.

The cancellation comes three weeks after the department suspended the June Regents exams and amid widespread uncertainty about how the pandemic will affect the summer months.

In addition to passing their courses, students in New York must also take five Regents exams to earn their diplomas. In light of the test cancellations, the education department is waiving Regents requirements in certain cases.

Shannon Tahoe, the state’s interim education commissioner, wrote in a letter Thursday to district leaders across the state that, with school buildings still closed, it is unclear “whether students will be adequately prepared” for the tests.

“It is most important that during the time of closure, educators be able to continue to focus their efforts toward local school and community needs and not have to be concerned about preparing students for State assessments,” Tahoe wrote.

In order to be exempt from the Regents exam and still receive credit toward graduation, students must pass the related course. If they fail, they must retake the course and pass it over the summer. There’s more information here on how it works.

The state education department also canceled a slew of other state tests this year, including the grades 3-8 math and reading exams.

Common reasons that students take an August Regents test, rather than or in addition to the June one, include earning a higher score than on a previous exam, or because they were absent on their June test date, according to the state education department.

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