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New York District Won't Factor Regents Tests Into Grades

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PERINTON — State tests that once sent high grade-point averages plummeting will no longer carry the same weight in Fairport.

The Fairport Central School District this year will not factor Regents examinations into a student’s final grade. The tests used to count as 20 percent of the final course average. Now the exam scores will only appear on a student’s transcripts.

John Serafine, director of counseling at Fairport High School, said the subject matter and uncertainty of the test are reasons why the district has changed its policy. He added that other districts in the state and county also exclude Regents scores in final course averages.

Over the past five years, the Regents exams became more comprehensive and were not tied to a particular class. For example, the Math A exam measures about a year and a half of math and the global history exam covers about two years of material. So the district stopped including those scores in final grades.

But the U.S. history and foreign language exams were tied to a specific class and counted as 20 percent of the grade. Until now.

“We were in a situation where some were counting 20 percent and some were not, so we thought we weren’t being consistent with that,” Serafine said.

The state does not require districts to factor the Regents into a student’s overall grade. Tom Dunn, spokesman for the state Education Department, said the decision to use the Regents tests in final grades is up to the individual district.

“We think that is a decision best made at the local level,” Dunn said.

Parents were informed in a letter in late February that said the changes were necessary because of the “uncertainties with the quality of the New York state testing program and dramatic fluctuations in passing scores over the past two years.”

Fairport Superintendent William Cala, an outspoken critic of mandated testing, said the Regents tests have an arbitrary conversion system and are unreliable. Including those test scores in a student’s final grade, he said, would be unfair.

“Given (the state’s) recent track record, what guarantees do we have that we are not going to see the same mess-ups as in math and physics?” Cala said. “When they cure their schizophrenia, maybe we can look at including these things again.”

Luba Romanyuk and Timothy Fricke said they enjoy their U.S. history class because of the relaxed atmosphere and interesting subject matter. Although the Regents test will not play a role in their final grades, the 16-year-old juniors are still working hard to do well on the test.

“This isn’t going to change anything, because when it comes down to it you still have an exam to take and you still have to pass it,” Luba said.

But Timothy said there is an advantage.

“If you do bad on them, it won’t bring down your GPA,” he said. “That takes a load of stress off me at the end of the year.”

EARBELO@DemocratandChronicle.com

— Enid Arbelo
Inconsistent state tests won't affect student GPA
Democrat and Chronicle
2004-03-04
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/news/0304FC3FRNM_news.shtml


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