New York Students Not Ready For College; Regents Are to Blame

Cathie Black is going to get screamed at for this one! A new report says that just 23 percent of students who graduated from New York City public schools in 2009 were ready for college. This number, the New York Times reports, "is well under half the current graduation rate of 64 percent, a number often promoted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as evidence that his education policies are working." So what's the problem here?

It's because we've placed a false sense of importance on a meaningless set of exams that have hijacked our education system. Regents, for those readers not lucky enough to be blessed with the chance of taking them, are state-wide exams that are necessary to pass to graduate.

Here are some questions from last year's tests:

U.S. History Regents, August 2010
U.S. History Regents, August 2010
Global History Regents, August 2010
Global History Regents, August 2010

Many schools offer tutoring after school or on weekends so they can get the kids to graduation. Students are also frequently urged to go to regentsprep.org, an outdated site made by the Oswego school district, to review questions for the exam and units of material. The publishing company Barrons sells millions of copies of their famous red test-prep paperbacks to students every year. The mere sight of them makes any public school kid nauseated.

But what's the problem, exactly? The Times explains further:

Statewide, 77 percent of students graduate from high school. Currently, a student needs to score a 65 on four of the state's five required Regents exams to graduate, and beginning next year, they will need a 65 on all five.

Thankfully, the Board of Regents is starting to realize a 65 is not a passing grade. The Times says the Board is considering "permanently raising the passing score on high school Regents exams to 75 in English and 80 in math." That's more like it. Teaching to a low standard is only bound to enforce that standard.

[Mtanzer]

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