State scales back Regents exams as it awaits test waiver ruling

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Scaled-down plans for June 2021 Regents exams and for grades 3-8 assessments were approved Monday by the state Board of Regents, in the event that the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) denies a state waiver request linked to COVID-19.

If the request is rejected, according to the board action, only four of the June 2021 Regents exams will be administered; only Session 1 of the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests will be required; and only the one-session written test component of the grades 4 and 8 science tests will be administered.

In addition, the board cancelled the August 2021 Regents exams. The June 2021 Regents exams that will be administered if the waiver request is not granted include the ELA, Algebra 1, Earth Science and Living Environment tests, the only ones required under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), a state Education Department announcement said.

“While we were disappointed by the USDE decision not to grant blanket waivers for state assessments, we are confident that the regulatory amendments acted on today and other assessment-related actions by the department provide for the flexibility necessary to meet federal requirements while ensuring the well-being of those in our school buildings,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr.

The state Education Department “continues to engage with USDE in regard to finding the best path forward in offering state assessments for the children of New York,” said state Commissioner of Education Betty A. Rosa.

She added “we remain hopeful that USDE will provide the necessary waivers to allow our educators to remain engaged in the important work of fostering a safe and healthy learning environment for each child in New York state.”

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) issued a statement regarding the state’s plan for administering the standardized exams in grades 3–8 and high school if a waiver is denied.

“In a year that has been anything but standard, forcing states to administer standardized exams is just plain poor federal policy,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “The state is making the most of a bad situation by scaling back this year’s testing requirements and limiting stress on students who already have gone through so much.”

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