By Nahian Chowdhury ’16
The English Regents will now be administered to sophomores instead of juniors.
Starting this year, sophomores will be taking the Common Core Regents Examination in English. The grade will be used to determine their level of college readiness, as determined by the City University of New York (CUNY). Students must earn a minimum grade of 75 on the Common Core Regents to be considered college ready according to the CUNY website.
This change in policy aims to help students gain access to more opportunities. Many College Now English classes require students to have already taken the English Regents. If students are made to wait until their junior year to take the Regents, then they will not be able to take College Now classes in English until their senior year.
According to Ms. Suzane Thomas, the Assistant Principal of English, allowing students to take the Regents at a lower grade level will not significantly hinder their performance. At Cobble Hill School of American Studies, where Ms.Thomas previously worked as an administrator, freshmen were encouraged to take the English Regents. Thirty students took it and 28 of them passed, several with high 90s and a few with perfect scores of 100. This is the same exam that is being administered to juniors.
“I’m not saying it’s an easy exam, but if the student works hard, it’s possible,” said Ms.Thomas.
Many sophomores seem to disagree with this sudden change of policy.
“I would prefer to take the English Regents junior year, but unfortunately that is not an option,” said Jason Nagourney ’17.
Keely Guallpa ’17 added, “ I personally do not think I am ready for the test. I feel like I haven’t had enough review or learned enough of the material that is going to be on the test.”
Many students worry that their teachers will not be able to fully prepare them in time.
Nagourney said, “I think it’s unfair that older students were given more time to prepare while we are constantly being used as guinea pigs for state tests.”
Despite the added stress, some students feel that taking the English Regents sophomore year has it’s benefits.
“I think the exam should be taken this year because there are many more responsibilities junior year such as taking multiple APs. It would just lessen the work we have junior year,” said Amna Aslam ’17.
The Common Core regents differs from the Comprehensive Regents tests because the older test focuses on the ability to read and interpret texts while the Common Core is more focused on analyzing. The Comprehensive Regents includes works of literary fiction, but the Common Core only includes non-fiction texts.
“Common Core is new, therefore less familiar. That being said, we have very strong teachers who are using the Engage New York Curriculum and are familiar with the Common Core helping our students,” she said. “I believe in our teachers and our teachers believe in our students.”
One of the reasons Midwood is implementing this new policy is the SAT. Many students start preparing for the SAT Reasoning Test during their junior year; having to worry about both the SAT and the English Regents adds more stress. While the Regents is important in terms of determining college readiness for CUNY, the SAT is given a heavier weight by colleges outside of New York.
“You shouldn’t be studying for the SAT and the Regents at the same time when one is more important that the other,” said Ms.Thomas.
Thurston said, “I actually think the Regents is a form of SAT prep. Writing the critical lens helps prepare for the SAT essay. However, getting it out of the way would probably help juniors focus so that they aren’t focused on another exam.”
Another reason for the change is to make a wider range of classes available to students. Currently, juniors may take AP Language and Composition, American Classics, Creative Writing or Journalism. AP Literature and Composition is an option only for seniors, who have already taken the Regents. Starting next year, however, both AP English classes will be open to both grades.
“I like the idea because AP English will be more useful to take during junior year to help prepare us for the SAT,” said Aslam.
Currently, the AP Language and Composition class is composed of Juniors, all of whom had to take the English Regents in January. This caused Mr.Felder, who currently teaches AP Language to take a month out of the year to help prepare the students for a Regents exam. Other units from the AP curriculum had to be shortened in order to make room for Regents prep.
“Mr. Felder took the lead in creating assessments that show us where students are in terms of reaching standards,” she said.
These assessments are usually given to freshmen. Those who do well are good to go and those who don’t do as well will receive the help they need between that point and when they take the test.
Although many students are not happy with the policy changes, Ms.Thomas keeps faith in the ability and capability of Midwood students.
“We have the best students in the country, once they put their mind to it, they can do it,” she said.