The following letter was sent to the education commissioner on March 24:
Dear Commissioner Rosa,
On behalf of members of the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS), I want to communicate our concerns regarding the administration of the June and August Regents examinations. Many of our members are apprehensive about their administration and the impact on students. We are requesting that there be a continuation of emergency regulations passed last March that provide exemptions to diploma and other credential requirements that are tied to successful passage of Regents exams.
The 2021-22 school year has proven to be more complex and challenging than have the two prior years for students and staff. The beginning months of this school year were fraught with challenges focused on COVID-19. Between testing protocols, contact tracing, quarantines and waiting times for test results, instructional programs were often interrupted. During this school year, staff shortages, and transportation challenges exacerbated the reality that there has been substantial unfinished learning over the past two years. SAANYS just released the results of a survey to members regarding building administrators’ priorities, concerns and student and staff well-being. Over 28% of members believe that there has been a significant learning loss across the general population and 86% of respondents reported an increase in student behavioral challenges this school year.
For the 2021-22 school year, attaining a diploma and other credentials needed to exit high school should not include successful passage of Regents exams. A safety net would allow students who demonstrate successful completion of course requirements as sufficient for obtaining a diploma or other credential. Due to the cancellation of the Regents in the prior two years, there are many students who have not yet experienced high-stakes testing situations. For most students their learning has consisted of multiple interruptions and other socio-emotional effects due to the continuing impact of the pandemic. Educators need to direct their full attention to strong and consistent instructional programs, rather than shifting to test preparation.
We request that the emergency regulations passed last March that provided a safety net for students be continued for the 2021-22 school year. Your consideration to the concerns of building administrators is sincerely appreciated and we look forward to working with you on this issue.
Kevin S. Casey
cc: James Baldwin
Members, New York State Board of Regents