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Raising the bar for regent exams

Local schools prepare to meet higher expectations for students

Students might need to study harder next year for regent exams because now they'll have to reach an even higher score.

The New York State Board of Regents announced new cut scores on the math and English regent exams for third-through-eighth-graders on July 19. Cut scores are used to identify where a student places into one of four proficiency standards.

Students try to place above level one, below standard, and level two, basic standard. Placing in level three, proficiency standard, or level four, exceeding proficiency standard, is what schools aim for. Cut scores are used to determine how prepared a student will be for college.

"Our children will certainly have to improve to meet the new scores and new cut points," said Valerie Kelsey, superintendent of Schalmont Central School District. "Schalmont students are above the state average. We will work harder with them."

Since the bar is raised, fewer students currently meet the new standards. Grades three through eight across the state have 53 percent of students reaching the new level three or four in English, and 61 percent in math reaching the same levels. Statewide last year, 77 percent of students reached the same levels in English and 86 percent in math.

"We are doing a great disservice when we say that a child is proficient when that child is not," said Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents. "Nowhere is this more true than among our students who are most in need."

Schenectady County school officials seem to agree changing the cut scores is a good measure to better prepare children for college and beyond.

"I think the intent is good," said Kelsey. "The justification is to raise the bar to have higher expectations for our students."

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