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New York schools want to cancel final exams


ForumDaily New York

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New York City students may no longer have to take high school exit exams, reports Gothamist.

On June 10, the state Department of Education released guidelines for creating more ways to demonstrate your knowledge in various subjects. Schools want to phase out the final exams for obtaining a certificate of secondary education. If implemented, the move would represent a rollback of standards that have been in place in one form or another for more than 100 years.

Critics say the exit exams are an unfair barrier for students, including people with disabilities and English language learners.

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Those recommendations will be the subject of a series of public hearings in the fall before officials make a final decision.

What can change

For generations, students across the state have had to take GCSEs. Now to get higher education in New York City, most students take five end-of-course exams in core subjects, including English language arts, math, social studies, and science. The tests take several hours.

The new guidelines call for offering students more ways to demonstrate their knowledge, including through community service, speeches or presentations. Instead of the current three-level diploma structure, there will be only one.

Only eight states insist on graduation exams, according to Advocates for Children of New York, which supported eliminating the test requirement.

“We regularly work with students, many of whom have disabilities or are still learning English. They have completed coursework but are unable to earn a high school diploma because they are having difficulty managing standardized assessments. Sometimes they take the same exam a half-dozen times to raise their score just a few points,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York.

Not everyone supported the reform

“Given the declining college readiness of many New York students, loosening standards based on subjective measures will only exacerbate the problem,” said a statement from PLACE NYC, a group that advocates for selective admissions and standardized testing.

Under this proposal, final exams would not disappear entirely. Students will have the opportunity to continue taking exams to demonstrate their knowledge, state officials said.

It could be years before the changes take effect, if approved. Following public forums this summer and fall, the state education department will present an implementation plan, which will then go to the Board of Regents for a vote. Officials have not said when that vote will take place.

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