State education officals to ease graduation requirements for NY students

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State education officials are planning to ease graduation requirements for New York students.

This concerns especially students scheduled to graduate this month who faced schooling disruptions due to COVID or other medical reasons.

A proposal from the State Board of Regents — expected to be approved Tuesday — would allow students who passed their course this year but failed or missed the corresponding Regents exam due to illness, injury or quarantine to request a “special determination” to graduate with a “local” diploma instead of a Regents diploma.

Typically, only students with disabilities who have individualized learning plans have been eligible for the state’s less-rigorous local diploma.

Of last year’s graduates, roughly 870, or just 1% of students, earned a local diploma, according to state data.

The change is one more way the board is continuing to grapple with how to hold schools and students accountable for this year’s coursework while also recognizing the continued impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning.

For the first half of the year, New York City schools were quarantining thousands of children when positive cases arose in their classrooms. Even after that policy changed, many students and teachers tested positive for coronavirus, leading to high absenteeism rates for both.

According to public data as of June 12, nearly 240,000 COVID cases have been reported among New York City students and staffers this school year.

Additionally, families have reported that rates of anxiety have gone up, keeping some children out of schools. Mental health-related issues may also be affecting seniors as they sit for Regents exams, as they affected students in lower grades facing state English and math tests earlier this spring.

Regents exams are being administered from June 15 to June 24.

The move comes on the heels of last month’s vote to allow students to more easily appeal failing scores on Regents exams taken this spring or through the end of next school year.

Earlier this year, amid the first wave of the omicron surge, the board canceled the January Regents exams.

The latest proposal is for students who are not able to appeal their scores.

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