June 2020 Regents Examinations Are Cancelled

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Board of Regents has canceled the June 2020 Regents Exams.

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As a result of the ever-evolving health crisis of COVID-19, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the Board of Regents have canceled the June 2020 Regents Examinations. Students who had previously intended to take any Regents in June will be exempt from the requirement of taking them in order to receive their diploma. Because of the cancellation, NYSED will also be making modifications to graduation requirements.

While the June 2020 Regents Exams are canceled, the NYSED and the Board of Regents have yet to make a decision about the administration of the August 2020 Regents and will issue a separate announcement when such a decision is made.

The Stuyvesant administration has also yet to receive additional details about the cancellation. “All I know at this point is that Regents are cancelled. I don’t know what it means as far as Advanced Regents Diploma and then even the level above that, Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors,” Principal Eric Contreras said. “I’m assuming that the state is going to communicate that to local districts, who will then communicate that to schools.”

The cancellation of the Regents has also raised several questions regarding future logistics. “There’s a few open-ended questions that I have,” Contreras said. “I know for seniors, it means they don’t have to have [the Regents] for graduation. But for underclassmen, [ninth] graders and actually [eighth] graders in our system too, not just at Stuyvesant […] does it mean that they’re waived for this exam? Or does that mean that this exam now has to be done during another administration?”

Mandarin teacher Shu Shi did not expect the June Regents Exams to be canceled. “I thought it might be postponed but not cancelled. Like [the] gaokao [college entrance exam] in China has been postponed from June to July this year because of the COVID-19,” she said in an e-mail interview.

Moving forward, Shi plans on teaching more of the curriculum in the time that was formerly spent on Regents preparation. “Lesson 20 was the last lesson before taking the LOTE, but now students may continue to learn Lesson 21 to Lesson 23,” she said.

For physics, the cancellation will not affect the current curriculum or grading system. The Advanced Physics course will still continue to include topics from the Physics Regents exam, the SAT II Physics exam, and the AP Physics 1 exam. “While the Advanced Physics course includes Regents topics, the Regents exam is not included in the final grade for the course,” Assistant Principal of Chemistry, Physics, and Technology Scott Thomas said in an e-mail interview. “The students will be able to take the Physics Regents exam in January of 2021.”

After witnessing state exam cancellations in other states, Assistant Principal of World Languages, Art, and Music Francesca McAuliffe considered Regents cancellation in New York as a possibility. Despite the change, the current curriculum and grading systems in World Language classes will not be adjusted as well. “Students will be able to demonstrate mastery of learning their respective courses,” McAuliffe said in an e-mail interview. “Our educators have continually exceeded the expectations of standardized tests.”

For the social studies department, certain writing techniques usually covered in preparation for the Global Studies Regents exams will not be reviewed at the end of the year. “The only change I see is that teachers in Global Studies will not need to devote time to teaching and reviewing the ‘Enduring Themes’ essay component for the Global Regents. That component of the Regents does not involve skills of historical thinking and analysis that we value, and therefore, if we were not included on the Regents, we would not spend time teaching it,” Assistant Principal of Social Studies Jennifer Suri said in an e-mail interview.

Though uniform finals in replacement of the Regents are not being planned, Suri hopes that teachers will be able to finish their courses’ content by the end of the year. “I am hopeful teachers will be able to cover the curriculum. Some of this depends on if and when we go back to school. Both teachers and students are facing obstacles so we have to just do the best we can,” she said.

Assistant Principal of Math Eric Smith was not surprised by the cancellation but is still working out logistics for the math department. “Potential changes to curricula and grading policies will be discussed with the department before any decisions are made. We've already acknowledged the need for these revisions, but we agreed not to discuss all possibilities until we had all of the facts from the state,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Math teacher Brian Sterr believes that the cancellation of the Regents exam was the right decision, but that the curriculum should not be changed. “The students still need to be prepared for the next course, whether or not they take the Regents. Just because there isn't a test isn't a reason to just leave out topics. We usually teach beyond the Regents exam anyway, so I am maintaining the usual Stuy level,” he said in an e-mail interview.

As for his own Honors Algebra II and Trigonometry class, he is continuing to prepare them for the advanced math classes taken next year. “The only Regents course I teach is Honors Algebra 2, where we do even more to prepare students who are going to double with Calculus their junior year, so I am sticking to all of that so they have a solid trigonometry foundation for handling both Honors [Pre-Calculus] and AP Calculus BC,” Sterr said.

The cancellation of Regents have also garnered reactions from Stuyvesant students, who often perceive the Regents as a way to boost their GPA at the end of the spring semester. “For Stuy students, it doesn’t really matter if we have Regents. If anything, I feel like Regents is a grade booster or a GPA booster because our test grades are usually above the state average anyway, so in that aspect, I guess it’s a little bit upsetting,” sophomore Shivali Korgaonkar said.

Junior Fion Sin, however, is concerned as to whether students will be taking a final for the final exam grade in replacement of a Regents exam. “One of my biggest concerns is whether or not we are going to have a remote final now that we do not have Regents to count as our final exam for some classes,” she said.

In addition, students have not received much communication as to how their classes will proceed as teachers are still adapting to the change. “I noticed that in every single one of my Regents classes, not a single teacher has put a classroom announcement or something saying that Regents has been canceled,” Korgaonkar said. “I think they’re doing that because they know that as soon as they tell students, students are going to try less hard in their class, which is a reality of the situation where there’s no final test.”

Though Korgaonakar would have originally taken four Regents this year, she is ambivalent about the change. “I don’t think I was originally in favor of [Regents being canceled], but now that it’s happening, I’m not super opposed to it because it’s just less work,” Korgaonkar said.

On the other hand, Sin characterizes the cancellation as one that is both relieving and worrying. “Relieving, because this is one less item on our plates and worrying because if we aren’t taking Regents, then does that mean we won’t be back in school by June?” she said.

Despite these changes, McAuliffe emphasized health and wellbeing as the utmost priority and expressed how impressed she is with the staff and students during these times. “Everyone is doing a tremendous job of preparing, facilitating, participating, contributing, and engaging in meaningful remote work,” she said.

Amid the cancellation and various other changes, many teachers hope to continue providing the same level of learning for their students. “I think the last things we should be worried about is the cancellation of Regents. Stuyvesant is a school for advanced learning, and sadly for many years, the NYS Regents has lowered standards to assess minimum competency,” social studies teacher Dr. Lisa Greenwald said in an e-mail interview. “We are a school that seeks to go above and beyond minimum competency—to dig into complexity, to allow students to follow their curiosity and their intellectual passions. Let’s continue to do that—Regents or no Regents.”