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Should the Regents Exams Be Eliminated?

Kiera Hegarty, Grade 11, Staff Writer


New York is one of the few states that still requires state exams for graduation. Students must take and pass Regents exams, reflecting material learned in several subjects, to gain their diploma. While this has been a long maintained practice, many are beginning to argue that the tests are outdated and should be reconsidered. Common Sense takes a look at this topic.

As explained by The New York Times in a November 2023 article titled Regents Exams May Become Optional for High School Graduation in New York, there are possible upcoming changes surrounding the administration of Regents exams.

New proposals include introducing “performance-based assessments.” This could include exercises such as presentations and oral exams rather than the sit-down exams that have been taken by generations of New York students.

The current Regents exam system and mandate negatively affects students throughout the state. As the article notes, the Regents can lead to higher rates of students dropping out, as the grueling three-hour exams can be overwhelming for students who are not comfortable with a testing environment. It is unclear if a high school diploma should be determined by one high-stakes test. Although some fear that if Regents exams are taken away high school diplomas will lose their value, it is important to question.

The solution to this problem, however, is not clear. Though the exams are quite unpopular with students, they are often seen as a tool for educators to assess their student's knowledge.

Mollie Kuritzky (‘25), who has been taking the regents since freshman year, says “I think they are necessary for the government to ensure that students are being taught to the level necessary.”

However, this begs the question of whether or not a test is the sole way to test a student's proficiency? Not only are alternative strategies available, they come with possible unexpected benefits.

An oral exam or presentation, for example, may help students develop skills such as public speaking that are uniquely relevant to their future careers. The Regents exams, contrarily, may have negative impacts. As the article states, the immense pressure of the traditional Regents exams can weigh down on students' mental health and thus negatively impact student performance.

Moving forward, the state should potentially examine an alternative strategy for gauging student’s learning progress. Whether that be a presentation or oral exam, it has become clear that a standardized test may not be the most effective option for every student.

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