Posts tagged "Regents"
July 11, 2012
Last year, the Evander Childs Campus got a new library, replete with rows of new computers and a mural depicting scholarly pursuits.
The library opened its doors for the first time last month — but not to students. Instead, it housed teachers from other high school campuses, who convened there to try out a new model for grading students’ final exams.
Regents exams, which students must pass to graduate from high school, have been scored by the teachers who administered them since the Regents exam program began in the nineteenth century. But mounting concerns about cheating — spurred on by the finding that students hit the minimum passing score at a disproportionately high rate — have prompted the city and state to make changes to how the exams are graded.
The state’s test security overhaul calls for schools to stop grading their own Regents exams by June 2013. The changes are meant to reduce opportunities and incentives for teachers to inflate their students’ scores, which under state law could factor into teachers’ evaluations in the future. The shift would bring Regents exam grading in line with how most states score high-stakes exams and with New York State’s requirements about elementary and middle schools’ exams.
Buoyed by its own concerns about cheating and softer forms of score inflation, the city has sped that timeline up. In January, a handful of schools tested out a system to ensure that teachers do not grade their own students’ exams.
Department of Education officials expanded that system, known as “distributed scoring,” to more than 160 schools this spring. Most of the schools deployed teachers to centralized locations such as Evander Childs, and teachers from 17 schools tested a system for grading exams online. In total, about 107,000 exams were graded under distributed scoring last month.
Teachers who participated in the pilot gave it mixed reviews. Some said the system made them better graders because they considered only the answers, not the students, when assigning scores. But others said the system of musical graders was complicated, time-consuming, and likely to lead to unfairly deflated scores. And a small number of missing tests highlight the potential cost of logistical mishaps. (more…)
May 23, 2012
Tougher graduation requirements almost two decades in coming are putting thousands of city students at risk of not earning a diploma this year.
Advocates are asking the state to give more students more time before fully implementing more stringent graduation requirements, but city officials say educators and students have had plenty of time to prepare.
For the first time, students in New York State will only be able to graduate with a Regents diploma, requiring they receive a 65 or above on at least five Regents exams. In the past, students could graduate with a local diploma, allowing them to receive a 55 on at least five exams. In the 1990s, state officials initiated a change to make requirements for the local diploma increasingly stringent, until it could be phased out. Last year, students were able to receive a local diploma by passing four Regents exams with a 65, and one with a 55.
It’s impossible to know how many students will be affected, but the Department of Education estimates that 10 percent of the city’s class of 2011— almost 8,000 students — received a local diploma. (more…)
August 9, 2010
One thing is sure, even in an uncertain economy: Students will still take tests.
New York State made that official last week when it finalized some cost-cutting changes to the state’s high school testing program but left most exams and test dates intact.
Back in March, state officials issued a dramatic proposal to gut the high school testing program. The state could save $13.7 million annually, they said, by eliminating exams in all subjects except math, reading, and science; ending January and August test dates used to help students graduate; and no longer translating test materials into foreign languages.
After the state budget provided for part of the Education Department’s funding request, officials ultimately decided to enact a scaled-down set of test changes. Students will no longer take a social studies exam in grades 5 and 8, and students who study German, Hebrew, and Latin won’t be able to take a state exam in those subjects.
But the vast majority of the Regents exams required for graduation will remain in place, at least for now. (more…)
June 29, 2010
Last week, I wrote about a test prep program at New Design High School that aimed to boost Regents exam scores through original hip-hop songs.
So did it work? According to the school’s unofficial results on the three exams the program prepared students to take this year, the answer is a qualified yes.
Scores jumped on the English and U.S. history exams. Nearly twice the number of special education students passed the American history test, and the number of current or former English language learners who passed the exam nearly tripled. But students didn’t fare so well on their Global History exams, which are typically taken in tenth grade.
Using the songs alone is not enough, said Philip Courtney, the head of Urban Arts, the nonprofit that developed the hip-hop program, called FreshPrep. Courtney said the results point to a need for better teacher training about how to integrate the competitive games that are part of the program, not just the music. Teachers who worked all parts of the hip-hop program into their test prep posted the best results, he said, giving as an example Laura Rubin, whose American history class I visited. Nearly three-quarters of Rubin’s students passed the U.S. History Regents exam.
Urban Arts is revamping the program before rolling it out in six new schools next year. This summer, the group will test out a hip-hop curriculum to help students prepare for the Integrated Algebra exam.
June 23, 2010
It was exactly a week before juniors at New Design High School would sit for their American History Regents exam, but you might not know it from the hip-hop beats emanating from a stereo at the front of the class.
But you’d know by listening to the song’s lyrics, which discussed essay-writing strategy.
And after the song ended, one student kept going. ”Don’t just describe — analyze,” he rapped. “Write what you mean, discuss the theme.”
The class was in the midst of reviewing the U.S. History Regents curriculum using a pilot program called Fresh Prep, which wrote its own hip-hop songs to help students remember facts, concepts and test-taking strategies.
The program’s creators are trying to prove that music and arts can help boost student test scores in core subjects like history and English. They’ve already seen some success: When they ran the program on a smaller scale last year, the vast majority of students passed their exams.
June 15, 2010
Pre-exam anxiety and post-exam elation and regret are in the air today, but those feelings are also streaming through Twitter.
By mid-morning today, the first day the city’s high schoolers are sitting for their Regents exams, thousands of tweets included the word “Regents.” A Twitter search paints a portrait of how students spend their time studying for and stressing out about their tests before they take them and how they celebrate after they finish. And it even includes a rare tweet from inside the exam hall.
“Good luck to everyone taking the Regents this week, including myself for my FINAL chance,” wrote one student. Jitters abound, though some students are entering the exams with confidence:
Some students warn that Twitter can abet cheaters, while others plan their cheating strategies:
May 21, 2010
High school Regents exams have long come under criticism for being easy to game: Teachers grade their own students’ work, and checks against cheating are flawed. That could change next year with a new rule voted in by the Board of Regents.
Rather than rely on a group of teachers and state officials to examine tests for grade tampering, the city will begin scanning students’ multiple choice answer sheets next year. State officials said scanning tests will let them perform a high-tech cheating check called “erasure analysis.”
That means officials will be able to look for instances of teachers changing students’ answers by counting the number of times each student erased a wrong answer and bubbled in a correct one.
Next year, only six tests that students frequently take in order to get diplomas will be scanned, but in 2012 all Regents exams will be.
November 20, 2009
The New York State Education Department is failing to ensure that Regents tests are properly scored, according to an audit published today by the state comptroller’s office.
The exams are given to high school students, who have to pass five in different subject areas in order to receive a Regents diploma. Teachers normally administer and score the tests under the supervision of each school’s principal, and the school district is responsible for reporting scores to the state.
The audit focused on the review process the state uses to ensure the scoring is accurate and consistent. In these reviews, a group of teachers and NYSED officials re-score a random selection of exams and compare them to how the tests were originally scored to judge the accuracy. The review team then makes recommendations to the state and to schools about how to improve the scoring process.
In the most recent review, completed in 2005, the scores awarded by schools were routinely higher than the scores given by the reviewers, and reviewers reported that school scorers frequently assigned full credit to student answers that were “vague, incomplete, inaccurate or insufficiently detailed.”
But auditors found little to suggest that the state followed up to improve the process, the report says.
“For example, we found no evidence actions were taken to implement the Review team’s recommendations to improve scoring training and enhance quality control during the scoring process. We also found no evidence actions were taken to bring about improvements at particular schools,” the auditors write. (more…)
April 23, 2009
More city public school graduates are enrolling at City University of New York Colleges, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and CUNY President Matt Goldstein boasted at a press conference last month. But whether the students are prepared for the college experience, both in and outside the classroom, is much less clear.
Only 7.5% of students take all of the high school courses that CUNY recommends, and more than 70% of the first-year students in CUNY’s junior colleges must take remedial courses to catch up on basic skills, according to John Garvey, who was until recently the dean in charge of CUNY’s College Now program, which allows high school students to take college-level courses. Garvey presented the information at an event Tuesday held by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, which is developing a set of recommendations for how to boost student achievement.
One major problem is that the most advanced high school courses, called Regents courses to match the exit exams students must pass, do not approximate the style or difficulty of college classes, Garvey said. CUNY freshmen are exempted from remedial courses if they score a 75 on the math and English Regents exams. But the tests focus on material that should be learned in middle school and the first years of high school, Garvey said. “They don’t align with the real needs of college courses,” he said. (more…)
April 22, 2009
Some high schools allow students who fail a class to get credit for it anyway by completing a short course or special project in a controversial practice known as “credit recovery.” But despite the practice’s widespread use, credit recovery has actually never been permitted under state regulations, which require a certain amount of “seat time” for students to earn course credit.
Now, the practice could soon get a green light from the State Education Department, which last year said it would review whether credit recovery met its standards for course completion. At its meeting this week, the Board of Regents reviewed a proposal from SED for a formal policy on what the department called “‘making-up’ course credit.”
The proposed policy, which SED developed in collaboration with the city Department of Education, does away with seat time as a basic standard for whether students earn high school course credit. The proposal would require schools to establish committees of teachers and administrators to determine whether a student’s make-up work should receive credit. It would not require that students spend a specific amount of time making up the credit, but it would mandate that replacement instruction be given by a teacher certified in the subject. (The full proposal is at the end of this post.)
SED Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier told the committee that a policy is needed because credit recovery programs are becoming more prevalent. (more…)