Standardized testing can break a student

New York State Common Core Regents Exams Failing Students

New York State high school students sat for the Common Core ELA and Common Core Geometry Regents tests yesterday and reports are not sounding good.

I posted last week about the upcoming Common Core regents and that students needed to take the ELA and Algebra 1 Common Core regents because they are mandatory for earning a high school diploma.  This information is listed in the KHS student handbook and it is why I have been careful to talk about test REFUSAL specifically for grades 3-8.  The New York State Regents tests are most definitely high-stakes because graduation depends on them or at least on passing 1 math regent, 1 science regent, ELA regent, US History regent and Global History & Geography regent.  Click here to see the available diploma types and the credits/assessments required.  Note that the local diploma option is no longer available to general education students.

Some parents in other districts were shocked though when they received a letter informing them this weekend that the Common Core regents test was required for graduation since some parents had planned to refuse the Common Core regents tests.

According to letters from the New York State Education Department during transition periods to the new Common Core regents, the ‘old’ regents test and the new Common Core regents test will both be administered.  Students, depending upon when they began their high school course of study, may have the option to take both regents tests and take the higher grade but the clear expectation in the letters is that students will take both tests (pre-Common Core and Common Core version).

The Common Core regents tests have been problematic since they were introduced in June 2014 but haven’t gotten as much attention as the grade 3-8 state tests.  This year’s tests are seeming to continue the trend of problems and students/parents are wondering what to do?

This letter to the editor published on May 5, 2015 from Jose Rodriquez in Wappingers Falls reports his experience with the Algebra 1 Common Core regents introduced last June 2014.

When New York state first gave the Common Core math Regents, I was one of the students who had to take the exam. It was very difficult; even teachers were unhappy with it. Since it was the first time the state was administering the new test, the state made us take the regular algebra Regents exam. The state used us as test subjects to see how students would fare on the Common Core Regents. They used the old Regents exam as a fail-safe just in case a lot of students failed the Common Core, and whichever you scored highest on was the grade that counted.

I was one of many students who failed the Common Core Regents, but thankfully I passed the regular algebra Regents. Students have enough stress on them and this new curriculum is not helping. I know firsthand that students were dropping out because the Common Core Regents is really hard or they lacked confidence in their abilities. Dropout rates could continue to rise all across the state because of the governor’s education reform plan.

Comments after the second administration of the ELA Common Core regents in January 2015 were still generally negative about the test.

Comments I have seen posted on facebook about the Geometry Common Core regents (administered for the first time yesterday June 2) are resoundingly negative.  They report that students who were getting 90s in their Common Core Geometry class were devastated by the test.  It was really hard and included material that they had not learned in class.

Student Devin Vandermark gave permission to share his post:

Took the Common Core Geometry exam. I have a 98% in that class. In fact I help the other students in my class. This exam was a piece of work. I know I failed. I was not able to answer a lot of questions with 100% confidence or even sometimes answer anything at all. This exam made me upset, frustrated and really lowered how I feel going forward with these regents/state exams. I feel put down as a student in my geometry class.

A number of adults/parents attempted to reassure Devin with encouragement that he can take the upcoming ‘regular’ regents geometry test and take the higher of the two grades or that colleges will not look at the regents score.  However the general consensus seems to be that the Common Core regents tests are poorly worded and purposely confusing (sounds pretty much like the grade 3-8 tests) and designed to fail the majority of students.

If students, such as Devin, who would generally be considered to be ‘excelling’ in their classes can not pass the regents exams, how are our struggling students or the special education students going to pass?

I don’t know what ‘story’ NYSED is planning to tell as a result of this round of regents testing but the story emerging from a student/parent perspective is that the students are not failing the Common Core regents but the Common Core is failing the students.