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New York

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.