Two English Regents for Juniors? I Don’t Think So

Gabi Caballero, Photo Manager

So New York State’s Department of Education has decided to roll out a new “Common Core” Regents exam in English on June 3rd.  And the IRHS administration thinks it’s perfectly fine to make the entire Junior class try the “regular” Regents exam this January, when normally only Advanced students or those trying to get a better grade would be taking it, just in case the “new” exam is too difficult.

But this does not make sense to many students.  How many of us Juniors really want to take two English Regents exams this year? I don’t believe any of us would say yes to that question. Let’s be honest here, no one actually enjoys taking tests, especially those that are required to graduate high school.

The students who aim to get a 90 or above on the English exam in hopes of proceeding to the college level English class their Senior year work hard enough as is. To be told halfway through the year that we have to take another test again in June is quite stressful. Even students who do well on the January exam will be required to sit for the “Common Core” Regents in June, basically as an experiment by the state and agreed to by our local administrators.

Students prepare to do well on the exam taken their junior year throughout the first three years of high school. Also, we do not all prepare to take a test based off of an advanced curriculum. Regent exams are hard enough as is. It is just plain unnecessary to force students to take both exams, especially when most Juniors have three or more high stakes exams already at the end of the year.

Even though which ever grade is higher is the score that goes on our transcripts, that does not make it any more okay.  Why make the entire class take a test that most of them simply will not do well on? It’s pointless. If you want to give an advanced test, give it to the advanced students, not the entire junior class. The advanced English students will always have an advantage over the regular English students but even those students have not had a full Common Core curriculum in their freshman or sophomore years.  In fact, there is no such thing yet.

As a member of the 2013-2014 Junior class, I feel that we should have a choice as to which Regent exam we want to take. I do not feel like the entire class should be forced to take it. I, personally would choose to take the advanced exam, but that does not mean every student would.  Students who have learning disabilities and struggle with exams in the first place may end up taking three three-hour exams in English this year–January, the “new” exam in early June, and then again during the “regular” exam period in late June.  Why do students who have the hardest time in school to begin with have to take the most tests?

The fact that the all 235 members of the Junior class are taking both exams this school year leads me to one, single thought. That we are simply being used like guinea pigs to try out the newest addition to New York State’s long list of standardized tests, and no one is standing up for us.