By Julia Zelenko ‘15
The English Regents has traditionally been administered to students in the 11th grade at Midwood. However, starting next year, Midwood will be administering the test to sophomores, instead of juniors, after the English Common Core aligned curriculum for the first two years of high school.
Currently, students must take three years of regular English before sitting down to take the English Regents in June. During these English classes, students are taught how to analyze reading materials from a variety of genres, answer main idea and inference questions based on the text, and write comparative and persuasive critical lense; all of these skills are tested on the regents. However these skills can be taught in two years, even with “harder” Common Core standards in mind.
If students were forced to take the English Regents Exam at the end of their sophomore year, they would have plenty of time to take more electives and Advanced Placement classes, two years instead of one. During the 11th and 12th grade, students would be able to take a total of two English Aps (AP English Literature and Composition during their junior year, AP English Literature during their senior year). They would also be able to take a ton of different electives, which include Journalism, Yearbook, and Haitian Studies. All of these different classes would allow students to enhance their college applications come senior year.
“If I could go back, I would definitely take it in sophomore year,” said Helen Wong ’15. “Junior year should be a time to build up your resume and your college application, and we shouldn’t have to worry about the English Regents. Taking the English Regents in junior year also wastes time from classes like AP English and Literature.”
Administering the Common Core English Regents to 10th graders instead of 11th graders has another advantage. If a student does not pass the English Regents during the sophomore, they have the opportunity to make it up in both their junior and senior years. For City Universities in New York, a student must receive a 75 or higher on the regents to be considered college ready, while for State Universities he or she must receive at least an 85. Having this ability to retake it in the junior year would take pressure off the student and would allow them to focus on other academics during senior year. Without this opportunity, this student who failed would be forced to take the test during his or her senior year, adding on to the shoulder-crushing amount of pressure and stress senior year brings with it.
Some critics argue that two years is not enough time for students to adequately learn the skills that are tested on the Common Core aligned Regents exam and that are required to do well. However, this new Common Core Regents only has a couple of differences from the previous English Regent. The first main difference, according to http://www.corestandards.org, between the Common Core standards and the preceding ones is that students should be tested with more complex texts. But this shouldn’t be much of a challenge because two years can provide enough practice for the students. Similarly, the new standard that states students should be able to write essays that are supported by evidence from literary and informational texts shouldn’t take three years to teach. This is especially so because this standard isn’t new, it is what every student has been taught since he or she began writing essays. The third and final difference between the old English Regents and the Common Core aligned one is the emphasis on nonfictional material. But finding complex, nonfictional material and providing these texts as practice for the student should prepare them in two years.
The decision to give the Regents exam to sophomores instead of juniors is a valid one. It should be encouraged and looked forward to because of the many advantages it would create for students.