By Abir Hossain’15
The regents have long been considered an essential part of education in New York State, but many ponder upon whether or not they are really necessary.
The debate on whether the regents should exist has been going on for some time now, but it has intensified in the last few years. The regents have long been criticized for being an inaccurate representation of student performance due to the belief that a whole year’s worth of learning could not be determined by one test. Many students and teachers find the regents to be a hindrance that wastes valuable time that could be otherwise used to cover more important topics.
Conversely, supporters of the regents claim that these standardized tests give a general idea of the students performance, and therefore are necessary. They believe that the regents provide a curriculum that makes it easier for teachers to teach what they feel is important. The argument made by many proponents of the regents is that the regents provide a way for colleges to evaluate students. It is for this reason that the regents are necessary in order to get a diploma in New York State. To test this claim, several colleges were contacted and asked what they thought of the regents and how big of a role regents grades play when students apply to college. The response from most colleges was that that since the regents are unique to New York State, they play a fairly small role during student admissions. For the most part, only schools within New York State even bother to look at regents scores.
“We do look at a student’s regents scores, bit only to see if we have checked everything we can about the student,” said Andy Morris, Associated Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Binghamton University. “We only check whether the student has passed or failed. Since the regents are only in New York, they’re not really something we consider a primary factor during admissions.”
Almost all colleges outside of New York pay no attention to the regents at all. Even colleges in states that have tests similar to regents see the regents as unnecessary. According to a representative from the University of California, Berkley, the regents and similar tests play no part during student admissions because they believe state mandated tests are not extensive enough to be considered a factor.
“The regents are exclusive to New York, and therefore they are cannot be used to evaluate students during admissions,” said Lee Politis, an Associate Dean in the admissions office from the University of Virginia.
Representatives from schools such as Wesleyan University, Boston College, and New York University replied with similar answers, saying the regents are not a primary factor for student admissions.
Many of the students who were asked of their opinions of the regents responded by saying the regents are unnecessary tests and that teachers and administrators put too much time into them.
“The regents are a complete waste of time,” said Farhan Chowdhury ’14. “They dumb everything down and most of the questions are much easier than ones we learn in class.”
Indeed many students have claimed that the regents tend to be easier than the class. Most reported that they tend to score higher on the regents when compared to their class grades. But this is where the moderates come in. Some, like Yves Charles ’15, said that he doesn’t feel the regents are as bad as many people make them out to be, and that sometimes reviewing regents material helps him during class. Cases like that of Charles are few in number, and others that had been interviewed, such as Onur Ayaz ’14 and Miriam Gabay ’15, have said that they feel that the regents are inadequate way to measure a student›s capabilities and offers no real advantage to students or colleges and should be removed.
Though most students feel that the regents are easier than their classes, this was proven to not always be the case. According to Ms. Patricia Lazo, the Assistant Principal of the Math Department, students only do better on the regents on certain subjects. She said that on tests such as the Algebra Regents, students tend to do better compared to their class because of the high curve. Conversely, the Trigonometry Regents has a relatively low curve compared to the Algebra Regents, and she said that students tend to do better in class for trigonometry.
“It all depends on the test,” said Ms. Lazo. “Since all the tests are graded different, the grade students get on them might be higher or lower than what they get in class.”
Despite rumors pointing to the contrary, the purpose of the regents is not to test a student›s mastery of a subject, but rather to test their minimum competency of a subject. If the regents were made to test for mastery, it would be a lot harder and the number of people who failed them would be much more.
The regents have proven time and time again that they don›t really represent what a student is capable of. They should be streamlined in a way that best fits a student›s needs. It is not as though every aspect of the current system should be changed completely, certain adjustments should be made in so that it better fits the standards required by colleges.