The Regent Exam “Gotcha”

Guest Blogger  Denis Ian


Any “test” that features any sort of “gotcha” question is not an assessment … because that’s a game show tactic … and this is no game show.

Of course, every test should have some opportunities for youngsters to exhibit their special knowledge. To narrow down the scope of questioning … because the test-makers were too, too lazy to formulate a new question … is fraudulent.

The goal of an exam is to provide students with an opportunity to display their mastery of a subject. The test makers should be as invisible as a competent referee in a sporting event. It seems to me that these tests make a real effort to swerve off main moments and events … and thereby demand that the more obscure be mastered as well as the most important. If this were a bar exam, I might concur. Bit it is not a bar exam … it’s an assessment for young learners … about 200 years old … who simply want to graduate high school and open the next chapter of their lives.

I will say this … while sometimes imperfect, the Regents exams were … for decades … accepted as suitable and appropriate assessments for high schoolers in this state. In fact, they even held a certain distinction among the states. No more.

This obligated move to align with Common Core has caused havoc throughout the Regents test program … not just in social studies but in math as well. And it will surface in all subjects soon enough because the pattern is now clear. Regents’ exams are no longer reliable gauges of student mastery. Instead they have become more similar to “trial by ordeal”. To succeed is to endure.

When you have cut scores that fluctuate wildly every year, that’s a certain indication that the tests are sloppy and even the makers distrust their ability to make an accurate instrument.

With cut scores that boggle the mind, teachers and student will rightly assume that every years’s passing rate is up to the whimsy of some unidentified fops in some unlabeled office in Albany.

I still maintain that the goal of all of these assessments is to confirm over and over and over again that the schools are dreadful failures and that Common Core is the antidote to the crisis. The reform itself has been under such sustained rebuke … and these tests scores represent easily manipulated justifications for a reform that is a magnificent failure.

These volatile scores will also serve as justification for teacher firings and for school take-overs by the state. Control is the long-term goal … but chaos will do very well for the moment.

The saddest part of this educational drama is that New York will again assume a posture of righteous arrogance … insisting that … for this or that reason … it will all heal itself and wonderfulness will fill the air for all of ever.

This state’s dysfunction is now a graduation requirement whether Albany wants to admit it or not.

Rather than being a steward of education in this state, Albany has become a saboteur of public education. They are involved in direct dismantling of a public school system for reasons way beyond educational performance. There are sinister forces in this state … and in this nation … that have hijacked education under the guise of reform … but in reality … it was all done for monetary and political gain.

It is a coup d’etat of stunning breadth and alarming incompetence. These exams are simply a public performance of their intent to mock this public education system into obscurity … and replace it with a system designed not for students … but for the self-serving.


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