NYS Cancels the 2021 January Regents

What this means for Lindy Teachers and Students

NYS Cancels the 2021 January Regents

Joseph Frescott, Co-Editor in Chief

On November 5th, 2020, the New York State Department of Education officially canceled all January Regents exams across New York State. This marks the second consecutive time that the regents were cancelled in New York. According to the Board of Regents Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown, they “determined the January Regents Exams could not be safely, equitably and fairly administered across the State given where the pandemic currently stands” (nysed.gov, 2020). As of now, they will work to assess the development of the pandemic to see whether the June and August exams will be administered. 

After announcing the cancellation of the January exams, NYS officials set out a guideline of new rules and exceptions for those planning to take a regents exam this year. Basically, the new exemptions for these exams state that if the course you are taking ends in January, you will receive credit with a “Pass” grade as long as you pass the class. This is the same thing they did for the June exams. However, what is different about this cancellation is that if a student is enrolled a full semester course for the exam, you are required to take it in June if it is available.

The news of these Regents being canceled comes as no surprise to many of the teachers around the building. “I wasn’t surprised… just a little disappointed,” stated Mrs. Kannavos, one of the many English teachers that was affected by this. Traditionally, 11th grade Honors English students had “the luxury” of taking the exam in January. This allowed these teachers to focus on the Regents for the first half of the year, and apply the skills acquired from the regents practice for the other parts of the curriculum. Now, teachers have been forced to change their curriculum, with the uncertainty that the regents will even happen in June. “No one knows whether we are going to be taking these exams in June…” stated Mrs. Kannavos, “this situation has made it much more difficult for myself and my colleagues to prepare our students.”

While our teachers have been preparing for the worst since the beginning of this school year, the canceling of these exams have greatly impacted a vast majority of our teachers. Many of them have scheduled lessons and plans that revolve around these regents, and the sudden cancellation of them is going to be a difficult transition for them. For Mrs. Kannavos, this meant changing her tradition of “Regents Fridays.” Under normal circumstances, her classes would spend every Friday reviewing for the Regents exam, sharpening skills such as “argumentative writing, reading compression, and poetry.” This “rigorous” review prepared her students well, as her students have “scored really well” in the past. However, now that the exams have been canceled, she has been forced to tone down this review, only doing these reviews twice a month. 

With teachers being greatly impacted by these cancellations, students are affected by this as well. The new exemptions and rules outlined above hurt many students, particularly the English Language Learners or those in the ENL program. These students usually take the Regents twice, in January and June, in order to give them the best opportunity to pass. With the January exams canceled, these students are now left with only one chance to pass during this school year. Ashly Colindres Ponce had this to say about the exams being canceled: “Taking the Regents early in January is good for the students since you get the chance to pass and don’t worry about taking it in June. If you don’t pass [in January], you get mentally prepared and you already know what they expect you to do and you will do better in June.” As you can see, taking the Regents in January was widely beneficial to many, and these cancellations hurt a lot of students who hope to pass their difficult regents exams. 

Overall, the January Regents exams are one of the many things that the pandemic has changed regarding school this year. For students and teachers alike, the cancelation of these exams is yet another hurdle that they have to cross due to COVID-19. However, despite all of these obstacles, our teachers will continue to put the students in the best position possible to succeed, whether that means passing the regents in June or not.