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NYSED guidance on Regents, graduation requirements

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) cancelled the June 2020 Regents exams and made some temporary changes to requirements for students to earn high school diplomas and graduate. Below is a summary of what students and parents need to know.

Regents exams

All Regents exams originally scheduled for June 2020 are cancelled. Students will be considered exempt from these exams if they were enrolled in Regents-level courses during the COVID-19 pandemic and they:

  • Meet all the necessary requirements to pass the class and earn course credit by June 2020 (this includes eighth-graders who are working ahead and taking Regents-level courses); or
  • Don’t successfully meet all of the requirements to pass the class by June 2020 but successfully complete summer instruction and all the necessary requirements to pass the class and earn course credit by August 2020.

NYSED is also giving an exemption to students for a Regents exam if they:

  • Were previously enrolled in a Regents-level class, had yet to pass the Regents exam given at the end of that course, but intended to take the test in June 2020. Intent to take a Regents exam can be shown if:
    1. students informed the school that they wished to retake the test;
    2. students were receiving academic intervention, extra instruction or tutoring to prepare for an exam; or
    3. students took the exam in June 2019, August 2019 or January 2020 in an attempt to pass the test or improve on a previous score.

Students who do not receive credit for a course ending in a Regents this year (including summer school) will NOT be exempt from taking the Regents exam in future years.

Lab Requirement

The 1,200 minutes of laboratory experiences required for science courses is waived for the current school year.

Graduation pathway assessments

The COVID-19 pandemic is also leading to exemptions in what are known as +1 Pathway assessments. To earn a diploma in this manner, students are typically required to pass Regents exams in four subject areas (math, science, English and social studies), plus one additional assessment in a pathway area that interests them.

The “+1” Pathway options are: STEM, humanities, arts, languages other than English (LOTE), career development and occupational studies (CDOS) or career and technical education (CTE). Each of the pathways has one or more assessments that students are required to pass near the end of the school year.

For this year only, students who were preparing to take a +1 Pathway assessment in June 2020 are exempt from having to pass those assessments for the purposes of meeting diploma requirements if they:

  • Are currently enrolled in the course of study leading to a +1 Pathway assessment and will meet all academic requirements to earn credit by the end of the school year; or
  • Were previously enrolled in a +1 Pathway course of study and achieved course credit, have yet to pass the associated +1 course assessment, but intended to take that assessment in June 2020.

Changes specific to the LOTE +1 Pathway

Students are exempt from June 2020 LOTE +1 Pathway assessments due to the COVID-19 pandemic if they:

  • Are currently or were previously identified as an English language learner (ELL) whose home language is one that is tested by the LOTE +1 Pathway assessment (Chinese, French, Italian, Korean or Spanish); or
  • Were deemed qualified by the school principal (in consultation with relevant teachers) and were planning to take the LOTE +1 Pathway assessment; or
  • Were deemed qualified by the school principal (in consultation with relevant teachers) in the use of American Sign Language (ASL) and intended to take the LOTE +1 Pathway assessment in ASL.

Checkpoint A and B Exams (Foreign Language)

There are additional exemptions for this year related to “Checkpoint A and B exams.” These exams are associated with the LOTE +1 Pathway described above and requirements for advanced diploma designations.

  • The Checkpoint A exam measures the first level of student proficiency in a language other than English (LOTE). Districts may choose to waive the exam requirement and grant students the first unit of LOTE diploma credit if the principal (in consultation with relevant teachers) determines students have met the standards outlined for the class.
  • Similarly, a school can exempt students from the June 2020 LOTE Checkpoint B exam in order to meet the requirements for an advanced diploma if those students will have earned at least three LOTE credits by the end of the current school year.

Exemptions related specifically to the CDOS Pathway

For this year only, all students—including those with disabilities—who were eligible to exit high school at the end of the 2019-20 school year may be granted a waiver from the required 216 hours of CTE instruction and/or 54 hours of work-based learning if those students have demonstrated proficiency in the CDOS learning standards. Similarly, students can be exempted from any CDOS assessments that were originally scheduled for June 2020 if they have demonstrated proficiency in the CDOS standards. Decisions about these exemptions will be made by the principal in consultation with relevant faculty members.

Students who were not scheduled to graduate at the end of the current school year may be exempted from CDOS requirements for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but must fulfill requirements that are in place for future years (i.e., the exemption is only for one year’s worth of requirements).

Changes related to the CTE Pathway

In typical circumstances, students on the CTE pathway would be required to take a three-part assessment at the end of their pathway coursework as part of diploma requirements. Districts may grant students in a CTE program an exemption from the three-part technical assessment as long as they have been successful in their coursework.

Safety nets

Students—including students with disabilities and English language learners (ELLs)—have a variety of “safety net” options that can help them earn diplomas (or alternative exit credentials) if they meet specific requirements; these requirements often relate to students who appeal Regents exam scores that are near passing (see our diploma types for more information). During the COVID-19 pandemic, all safety options will remain in place. In addition:

  • When determining if students—including ELLs and students with disabilities—are eligible for a local or Regents diploma during the pandemic, districts will automatically use a score of 65 for exempted exams. These scores will not be reported on students’ transcripts, nor can these scores be used for a compensatory safety net option.
  • All students continue to be entitled to a free, appropriate public education until the end of the school year in which they turn 21 or until they receive a local or Regents diploma. This has not changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information specific to students with disabilities

Students with disabilities have access to some additional safety nets options, including a “55-64 low-pass option,” a “55-64 low-pass option with appeal” and a “superintendent’s determination option.” (see our diploma types for more information). These options will remain in place during the COVID-19 school closures.

Students with disabilities can also continue to take advantage of the “compensatory safety net.” Under this option, a score of 65 on one Regents exam can compensate to a score of 45 to 54 on another exam if students have earned a 65 or higher on the math and ELA exams and have met all other requirements for the course in which a low exam score will be compensated for.  However, Regents exams that are exempted due to COVID-19 (which are automatically assigned a score of 65 for all students) cannot be used to compensate for lower Regents exam scores in the compensatory safety net option.

For Seniors: Graduation and diploma requirements

If students receive a COVID-19-related exemption for one or more of the originally scheduled June 2020 Regents exams or other assessments, those specific exams or assessments will—correspondingly—not be required for students to earn a diploma, including the local diploma, Regents diploma or Regents diploma with any of the state’s advanced designations.

Here are some additional details about specific diploma designations:

  • Advanced Designation: Under normal circumstances, the requirements for earning a Regents diploma with advanced designation differ depending on which academic pathway students choose. In response to the pandemic, however, students who receive COVID-19 Regents exam exemptions will receive those same test exemptions from the advanced designation diploma requirements.
  • Endorsement for Mastery in Math and/or Science: Under normal circumstances, students would have these endorsements added to a Regents diploma with advanced designation by completing all “advanced designation” requirements and also passing three math or science Regents tests with scores of 85 or higher. However, if students have a COVID-19 exemption from math or science Regents exams, they can earn the mastery designation with a score of 85 or higher on two (rather than three) science Regents exams or two math Regents exams (and meeting the other “advanced designation” requirements).
  • Honors Endorsement: Under normal circumstances, students would earn this designation by achieving a calculated average of 90 or higher on five required Regents exams. However, for students who have COVID-19 Regents exam(s) exemptions, the calculation will not include the exempted exam(s).
  • Advanced Designation with Honors: Students would typically earn this designation by achieving a calculated average of 90 or higher on eight required Regents exams. However, for students who have COVID-19 Regents exam(s) exemptions, the calculation will not include the exempted exam(s).
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) Technical Endorsement: Under normal circumstances, this endorsement could be added to a local diploma, Regents diploma or Regents diploma with advanced designation. In addition to meeting all of the requirements for those diplomas, students also need to complete a CTE program and its associated three-part technical assessment. As mentioned above, due to the pandemic, districts may grant students in a CTE program an exemption from the three-part technical assessment as long as they have been successful in their coursework; this exemption is permitted for students who are earning a diploma under the CTE pathway. However, districts must make an individual determination of knowledge and skill attainment when making a decision about adding the CTE Technical Endorsement to a student’s diploma.
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