By Chancellor Rudolph R. Crew
Raising our children’s level of achievement has been my primary mission since becoming Chancellor, and many of the initiatives we’ve introduced in our schools are aimed at ensuring that our students reach their fullest potential. I am pleased that the State of New York also embraces our belief in the importance of student achievement and is working as our partner in raising standards.
Last summer, the State Board of Regents and State Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills developed tougher requirements for all high school students in New York State. I enthusiastically support this measure because it means all our students will learn more challenging material and all will earn The New York State Regents’ Diploma—a nationally recognized symbol of educational excellence. This diploma will put our students in good standing to compete in an increasingly competitive job market.
These new requirements will be introduced in phases, beginning next year. By Spring 2003, all high school students will be required to pass Regents examinations in these five important “core” subjects—English, mathematics, global studies, U.S. history and government, and science. We are working now to ensure that students with limited English proficiency and special needs receive the proper support they will need to pass these exams.
Students will not be required to take and pass all five exams in the first year. The first required exam, the English Regents, will be given in the spring of 1999 to students who are currently sophomores. Students who fail this exam will have three additional opportunities to take the test before they graduate.
All students, regardless of their native language, must take the English Regents in English. For foreign students who first entered the school system in high school and may not have the language skills necessary to pass the other four exams. These tests will be offered in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Russian, Chinese and Korean.
In addition to the five tests, the passing grade will also be phased in. In the first year, 55 will be the passing grade, but by the year 2003, the passing grade will be increased to 65. Students who wish to earn an even more prestigious diploma will have the opportunity to pursue the Advanced Regents Diploma. They must pass the five exams mentioned earlier as well as three additional tests—one in mathematics, one in science, and one in a foreign language.
Preparing for Success
We have taken a number of steps to ensure that our children are well prepared to meet the state requirements and pass these exams. Our high school division has long recognized the need to provide increased, intensive instruction time to get our students ready for the rigors of college and the workplace. The successful math and science initiative, which provides entering ninth– and tenth–graders with remedial instruction during the summer and school year, has resulted in an increase in the number of students who take and pass these Regents exams. Here are the highlights of other initiatives: