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South Side students exempted from Regents

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Students at South Side High School who were planning on taking the Regents exams this spring no longer have to worry about sitting for the tests. The New York State Board of Regents passed a series of measures this week aimed at easing the burden on school districts during the coronavirus epidemic, including the suspension of Regents exams for the year.

“Students who would have taken one or more Regents examinations during the June 2020 examination period,” Superintendent Dr. William H. Johnson wrote in a letter to parents, “will be exempted from taking those Regents exams in order to be issued a diploma.”

The State Education Department issued a news release on Monday, saying it will “amend the commissioner’s regulations to provide that an alternative form of evaluation for students receiving home instruction, in lieu of an annual assessment, will be permitted for all grades in the 2019-20 school year, due to the State of Emergency declared by the governor.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put a tremendous burden on many New Yorkers, and our schools and children are no exception,” Betty Rosa, the Board of Regents chancellor, said in a statement. “The regulations passed by the board today will allow schools, students and professionals much-needed flexibility while they adapt to this rapidly evolving situation.”

To qualify for the exemption, Johnson said, students must meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

• The student is currently enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and will have earned credit in such course of study by the end of the 2019/2020 school year;

• The student is currently enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and has failed to earn credit by the end of the school year. Such student returns for summer instruction to make up the failed course and earn the course credit and is subsequently granted diploma credit in August 2020; or

• The student was previously enrolled in the course of study leading to an applicable Regents examination, has achieved course credit, and has not yet passed the associated Regents examination but intended to take the test in June 2020 to achieve a passing score.

“Students across New York State can breathe a collective sigh of relief,” said Robert Schneider, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. “No student should be denied course credit or a high school diploma or otherwise penalized due to these extraordinary circumstances. Guidance issued by the State Education Department focuses on ensuring learning outcomes and standards, rather than on testing. In our view, that is the proper focus.

“Teachers and administrators are making every effort to deliver instruction, and should be applauded for that,” Schneider added. “At the same time, it would be unrealistic to expect that all students are receiving equal opportunities for instruction under the current circumstances.”