This is not your standard school year.
Students shouldn’t be subject to standardized tests.
The state Education Department’s decision to cancel the January Regents exams in the wake of the covid crisis is a wise choice that should be extended to standardized exams scheduled for the near future.
From a practical standpoint, there’s just no way students should be subject to a week of standardized testing, requiring them to sit for several hours at a time, in the same room, on multiple days, simultaneously in every district in the state.
Not when covid cases are on the rise and when the state and country are anticipating a winter wave of the virus, combined with the traditional flu season.
From an educational standpoint, not all students across the state are getting the same educational experience this year because of the hybrid learning system put into place to reduce the spread of the virus. Some students fell behind immediately due to problems with internet access and delays in getting computers at beginning of the school year, and many are still adjusting to the changes.
While traditional classroom teaching doesn’t guarantee a homogeneous learning experience, it’s far better than the inconsistent experience students are having learning at times from home and at times in the classroom.
In announcing the cancellation of the January exams, the Education Department put forth a contingency plan to address issues related to completion of Regents courses, eligibility for honors and Regents diplomas, and the ability of students to continue their schooling.
It also announced its intention during next month’s Board of Regents meeting to propose modifications to the assessment requirements that students must meet in order to earn high school diplomas, credentials and endorsements.
The state has prepared a list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the suspension of the exam that parents, students, educators and administrators might find helpful.
While the state hasn’t yet made a decision on the Regents exams scheduled in June and August 2021, it’s clear this pandemic will be with us well into next year.
Rather than add to the confusion and consternation related to the exams, the state should cancel the remaining Regents exams and other standard tests, and extend the new protocol for evaluating student knowledge and performance in place of the exams.
To do otherwise would place an unfair burden on students for a historic health crisis that’s beyond their control.