Regents are Cancelled for the 2019-2020 Academic Year Due to Coronavirus


Anika Rahman

Every academic school year, high schoolers are required to pass a total of five of the Regents exams in order to graduate from high school.

At the end of every academic school year, students in the state of New York are required to take the Regents exams in order to graduate high school. The Regents are important to high schoolers since they are a graduation requirement as well as a grade put in for Final exams. This is why it was shocking when on April 6th, 2020, the State Education Department disclosed that the June 2020 administration of the NYS Regents Exams was cancelled to prevent the spread of the recent outbreak of coronavirus. “In times of crisis, difficult decisions must be made, and the Board of Regents knows these are ultimately the right ones for New York’s students,” the Board of Regents Chancellor, Betty A. Rosa, said in a statement to the public. 

In the state of New York, Regents exams are statewide standardized tests that assess students’ knowledge of high school subjects. Previously, students in grades 7-12 were required to pass these tests in order to receive their Regents Diploma. To earn their high school diplomas, they were also expected to pass five examinations in the following subjects: English, math, science, social studies, and other subjects approved by New York State.

 In the wake of recent events, the State Education Department has modified the high school graduation requirements so that most students will be exempt from taking the Regents. As long as students pass the course related to the exam, the DOE will not require that they physically take the test itself. Diploma credit will be granted if students meet the standards for the school’s curriculum. If a student could not receive credit for a course for any reason, he or she is required to return for summer instruction to make up the class, which will grant him or her diploma credit in August 2020. Although students who qualify to be exempt are not obligated to take the June Regents, they can take the test at a later time. As of now, the August Regents are still taking place, but officials are still contemplating as to whether or not they will cancel them.

After hearing about the elimination of the Regents for this school year, I reached out to students to hear their take on the issue. “I think it was necessary because, in the tight situation we are in, we can’t focus on studying such large amounts of content for the Regents,” said Bianca Hiew ’21. “This is especially true for juniors as we are already busy with studying for several AP exams along with learning lesson materials mostly independently.” 

Many Bronx Science students agree that the cancellation of Regents exams was a good choice. “Removing the Regents provides a nice relief since we’re so up in the air about what will happen next with our online schooling and the college process,” said Rachel Koon ’21. “I think it’s for the best. Regents also don’t really matter beyond SUNYs, so it’ll be easy for colleges to adjust,” added Chritina Gao ’21.

However, not everyone was happy to hear that there would not be Regents exams for the 2019-20 school year. “They were grade boosters, so I’m not too happy about it, but less work is less work, so I’m not sweating it,” said Evan Rothstein ’21. Other students similarly voiced dissatisfaction. “I personally don’t like [the Regents] being cancelled because for us, it’s like a last minute grade boost,” said Catherine Li ’21.

Although many students are disappointed, the decision was made to benefit all the students within the state of New York. “I think it’s unfair that students who were relying on the Regents to bring their grades up don’t have the opportunity anymore, but at the same time, not everyone in New York City has the technology or home environment to take a 1.5 hour test,” said Shaira Jafar ’21. 

Though these are strange and trying circumstances, the elimination of the Regents in the wake of Covid-19 will give us the opportunity to evaluate what a Regents-free curriculum might look like. At Bronx Science, most teachers use Regents scores in place of finals. State education officials had already been reconsidering the use of Regents exams, and they have suggested that perhaps the exams will be permanently eliminated. The outbreak of coronavirus has prompted further consideration over the continued use of the Regents exams as a requirement for graduation. As of now, it is unknown whether or not the Regents will be eliminated in the foreseeable future, but for this academic school year, we are given insight into what that future might be like.

“In times of crisis, difficult decisions must be made, and the Board of Regents knows these are ultimately the right ones for New York’s students,” the Board of Regents Chancellor, Betty A. Rosa, said in a statement to the public.