May 30, 2011

End of Regents’ Foreign Language HS Exams Puts Pressure on New York Districts


End of foreign language HS exams puts pressure on districts
by Philissa Cramer
May 18, 2011

In one of its lower-profile decisions this week, the Board of Regents voted to require districts to recreate exams that the state used to provide.

As part of a slate of cost-cutting measures meant to close an $8 million hole in the state’s testing program, the Regents voted to do away with all high school foreign language exams. Next month, Regents exams in Spanish, French, and Italian will be administered for the last time.

Because passing a foreign language exam is required for students aiming for a Regents diploma with advanced distinction, considered the gold standard of New York State diplomas, districts will have to create local assessments for students who wish to earn credit in those subjects.

New York City already has this experience. The city already offers homespun high school exams that can be used for advanced Regents credit in nearly 20 languages that are either taught in city schools or native languages for significant numbers of city students. The languages include Albanian, Chinese, Polish, and Urdu, among others.

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