High school students in New York may soon see changes to their graduation requirements. The biggest one? Making Regents exams optional.

Eamonn Scanlon works with the Children’s Agenda in Rochester. He says moving away from the Regents isn’t making high school easier for students, instead it’s leveling the playing field.

"They’re a valid measure of achievement, but they’re the only measure," said Scanlon. "We have different cultures and complexities of how kids view the world, but tests are only written in one vantage point."

Scanlon says this is especially true for students of color, low-income students and those with disabilities. It also opens the door for students looking to go into trade schools or the workforce after high school.

"Students who may not be as academically gifted in other academic subjects can still find ways to thrive and set themselves up for a career," said Scanlon.

New York is one of only seven states that still require students to pass exams to receive a high school diploma.

Regents exams have been in place since the 1990s. Rolling back the standardized exams was among the top recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures.

"It’s providing multiple pathways for students to have rigor and show they have content knowledge, but be able to get through and not be discouraged," Scanlon said.

Changes are not expected for more than a year, as Board of Regents members will seek feedback from state leaders and public input for several months.