A 159-year-old tradition may be coming to an end for high school students in New York state.

What You Need To Know

  •  The 159-year-old tradition of taking Regents exams to graduate from high school could be coming to an end

  •  NYSED's Board of Regents announced their vision to assess students' readiness for graduation differently

  •  It includes cultural competency and credits earned from approved learning and service-based experiences

  • Regents will still be used to assess students based on NYS standards' but will not determine ability to graduate

Regents exams have been administered since 1865 and the graduation of a student hinges on passing them. On Monday, the New York State Department of Education’s Board of Regents shared their vision to transform the track to graduation.

“It’s going to provide a lot of alternatives for kids because we know kids don’t come in one package, one form,” said Mark Laurrie, superintendent at Niagara Falls City Schools.

The plan has four main points. The first is called “adopting the NYS Portrait of a Graduate,” which assesses students on their readiness to graduate based on the following criteria:

  • Critical thinking
  • Innovative problem solving
  • Literacy across content areas
  • Cultural competence
  • Social-emotional competence
  • Effective communication
  • Being a global citizen

The second part redefines credits. It allows students to accumulate credits through means other than time-specified units. These include approved work or service-based learning, dual credit programs like early college, getting a New York state seal or credential, participating in the arts and passing exams, including Regents.

This section, Board of Regents members said, would support students with disabilities and English language learners.

“True equity and excellence in education is achievable — but only if we provide all students with meaningful educational opportunities and multiple avenues for them to demonstrate their mastery of the State’s rigorous learning standards,” Lester W. Young, Jr., Board of Regents chancellor, said in part in a statement.

The third part removes the requirement to pass Regents exams to graduate, but they will remain an option to assess students based on state standards. They will not be the reason students graduate. Additionally, state-level assessments required by federal law will remain in place.

These recommendations were supported by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), which issued a statement, saying:

"We know that every student is unique with their own talents, skills and aspirations. The way students learn is also unique to them. Moving away from a one-size-fits-all test-centered approach to graduation requirements is a good thing, which we laid out in our More Teaching Less Testing Task Force Report released last year."

In November, New Yorkers will know more about projected timelines, regulations and other considerations.