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State Considers Splitting History Regents Into Two Tests, Teachers Object

New regulations for splitting the test could cost the state millions and hurt graduation rates, though Regents believes it could ultimately help students.

New York state education officials want to split the history and geography Regents exams – the toughest that high-school students take – and make only one required for graduation, says the Wall Street Journal.

The proposal to split the test came on Monday after teachers were dismayed to hear that the Board of Regents considered making the exam optional. According to the Journal, the test has the lowest passing rate of any of the five required for graduation, including math, science, English and U.S. history.

State Education Department officials said the Regents suggested splitting the exam, making the first year about "foundational skills" in world history, geography, economics and civics, and the second about "cross cultural themes and patterns,” says the Journal

According to the paper, in 2011, only 69 percent of state students had passing scores on the global history and geography test – the lowest of any required exam.

Starting this year, the lowest grade allowed for passing is 65 up from 55, which means that graduation rates could take a dive.

State education officials said it could cost between $500,000 and $1 million just to edit the current test down to foundational skills, and were not sure of the cost to create a new test altogether, says the paper.

Reginald Richardson, principal at Performing Arts and Technology High School in East New York, didn’t believe that any more testing would help students to learn:

“Splitting it into two is just making more testing, and I think the last thing we need is more tests,” he told Patch. “All of this required testing every year has narrowed the curriculum, the discussions in class, and there’s no real learning going on. We spend millions of dollars on test companies and textbook companies. All that money should really be back in the schools.”

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