No more Regents exams for NY? What could change for high school graduation

New York education officials announced this week a significant shift in high school graduation requirements, unveiling a set of proposals that would make the Regents exams optional.

RELATED: New York plans to make Regents exams optional, no longer needed for high school graduation

The move, which is currently under review by the State Board of Regents, comes after years of study and has been met with both applause and concern.

So What's Changing?

Instead of relying solely on the Regents exams, students will be given options to choose from to demonstrate their education in seven key areas:

  • Critical thinking
  • Innovative problem-solving
  • Literacy across content areas
  • Cultural competences
  • Social-emotional competences
  • Effective communication
  • Status as a global citizen

Taken together, officials say these options will help create the "Portrait of a Graduate" needed to earn a high school diploma.

Students will also have the opportunity to provide evidence of their proficiency in the learning standards and the components of the Portrait of a Graduate in a variety of ways:

  • Work-based or service-based learning experiences
  • Capstone learning experiences
  • Early college high school / PTECH
  • Earning NYS Credentials or Seals
  • High School Courses
  • NYSED-approved CTE programs
  • Participation in the Arts
  • Passing Approved Assessments

The changes would move New York from its current model of offering three diploma types, one of which is an advanced designation, to offering a single diploma, with advanced designation becoming a seal or endorsement.

When Will The Changes Go Into Effect?

The proposal was presented at the State Board of Regents on Tuesday, but experts say it could take years before it is approved and implemented. 

The full plan on how to implement the changes will be presented in November. 

What are the Regents exams?

New York students must earn 22 credits and pass at least four of the three-hour Regents exams for a Regents diploma. Students must pass at least seven state exams for the advanced diploma designation, seen as giving a boost to their college applications. The exams were first given in high school in 1878, and now, New York is in the minority of states that require exit exams to graduate from high school.

Can students still opt to take Regents exams?

Yes. Regents would instead be offered to students who want to "demonstrate their proficiency in meeting the State’s learning standards."

Do other states require examination for high school graduation?

Only a few, according to They are: Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.

What Are People Saying?

Advocacy groups are in favor of the changes, saying that the regents exam is not a useful measure that students are ready for college.

"The Regents exams aren't correlated to success in life after high school," said Juliet Eisenstein of the Postsecondary Readiness Project. "There's no data or evidence showing that doing well on your Regents exams, prepares you for life after high school."

However, critics say the tests are a less biased way to gauge a student's progress than being assessed by a teacher.

"There are stories where a child will graduate, will have a 95 on their report card yet on their state test, they are deemed a 1 or 2, which means they're below grade," said Yiatin Chu of Place NYC. "So these cases do exist and I think what we're doing at this high school graduation level is perpetuating that."