New York state education officials are weighing what to do about the Regents examinations, the annual tests for high school students seen as vital to obtaining a Regents-stamped diploma.

A coalition of dozens of advocacy organizations this week in a research brief wants to end the practice of requiring students to pass at least five of the tests as a prerequisite to graduating high school.

The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, a coalition of 80 advocacy groups as well as educators and families, argued its research that states are moving away from exit exam requirements.

“The role of the Regents exams has continually evolved and changed over the past 150 years,” said Sarah Part, the senior policy analyst at Advocates for Children of New York, the organization that coordinates the Coalition for Multiple Pathways. “We now know from research that exit exam policies like New York’s fail to improve the quality of teaching and learning—and risk causing significant harm to our students. It’s time for New York to once again rethink Regents exams and revise its graduation framework to meet the needs of the current era.”

The group pointed to studies showing graduation exams can have the effect of increasing high school dropout rates, especially for students of color and students who come from low-income households. The group's research also disputed the use of exit examinations increasing student achievement or raise the value of a high school diploma when applying for a job.

The debate over the future of the Regents examinations and how much emphasis should be placed on them came as schools are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting classroom disruptions of remote learning.

There has also been increased skepticism of high-stakes testing over the last decade and its impact on kids.