NY changes high school graduation rules after cancelling Regents exams

WWNY NY changes high school graduation rules after cancelling Regents exams

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Education Department is making changes so high school students can earn a diploma.

Governor Cuomo announcing an extended closure of schools Monday was the final nail in the coffin for this year’s state Regents exams.

On Tuesday, the Education Department announced it has changed the requirements that students must meet in order to graduate.

"Once it became apparent that schools were going to be closed for a longer period time, we knew we had to get something out there to provide certainty for those graduating seniors," said Emily DeSantis, Department of Education assistant commissioner of public affairs.

Regents exams are typically a requirement for graduation. This year, that won't happen. Seniors will be able to graduate on time and underclassmen will be able to advance to the next grade level, so long as they pass the class that leads to the Regents.

Beverly Ouderkirk with the Board of Regents says it’s what’s most fair to students.

“I think for some students it will be a relief to know it’s not going to happen because they haven’t been in class, they haven’t had an opportunity to continue their studies the way they would have if they were in school,” she said.

Sackets Harbor Central School District Superintendent Jennifer Gaffney says it'll also be a relief to teachers.

"Teachers aren't going to feel that same amount pressure to cover all the material necessary for the Regents exam; they can slow down a little bit and identify the essential skills and content for the remainder of the school year and really work from there," she said.

The Department of Education and the Board of Regents are still working to see if a Regents exam in August would be reasonable for students who wish to take it. It will not be mandatory.

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