ITHACA, N.Y.—The New York State Board of Regents has canceled the January 2021 High School Regents Examination Program, according to an announcement issued by the state.

In canceling the regents, which are the regularly scheduled standardization tests given to students in New York State that measure aptitude in a range of subjects, the board added that decisions have not been made regarding the June and August 2021 regent examination periods.

Board of Regents Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown said the cancellation would not impede the state’s mission of education children, and other education officials echoed the sentiment that it would be better not to hold the exams in light of the coronavirus pandemic conditions.

“Throughout the pandemic our priority has been the health and wellbeing of our students and educators,” said interim Board of Regents Commissioner Betty A. Rosa in the press release. “We determined the January Regents Exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the State given where the pandemic currently stands. We will continue to monitor applicable data and make a decision on other State assessment programs as the school year progresses, being mindful of the evolving situation.”

The department also stated that it would be proposing modified requirements for students to meet in order to “earn high school diplomas, credentials and endorsements” in December. Those requirements will apply to all students who are scheduled to participate in any January 2021 Regents Examinations.

Ithaca High School’s Jacqueline Richardson, the Associate Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, said that the normal week that is reserved for regents exams would instead be held as a normal week of classes, under whatever class plan is in place at that time as well as project-based learning.

“There’s no surprise that many students and families are having challenges with internet service and accessibility, and our district has done a tremendous amount to assist with accessibility, and it’s still somewhat of a challenge,” Richardson said.

Canceling the regents won’t have that significant of an impact on the amount of information teachers have about who is struggling or excelling in their classes, Richardson said, because the teachers still have that knowledge regardless from their daily experiences with the students.

“While the regents provide some summative information, our teachers across the district, and specifically Ithaca High School, use many manners of evaluation of their students and their work and their learning,” Richardson said. “There is a lot of information that our teachers use and have available to them to support students learning.”

Safety net options still remain in place for all eligible students. More information on regents examination exemptions, in light of the January cancellations, can be found here. 

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com