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Students Double Up On Regents Exams 


Students in the Half Hollow Hills School District taking state regents exams in English and algebra this year will take two exams in those subjects this June.

This year, the state is allowing students to take both the existing version of the Integrated Algebra and Comprehensive Language exam as well as the new, mandated Common Core version of the Regents exam, John O’Farrell, assistant superintendent for elementary education, said during a school board meeting Monday.

Eleventh-grade students will first take the state’s new Common Core version of the tests, in Algebra I and English Language Arts, on June 3, and will also take the old format of the exam on June 19 and 20, O’Farrell said. The school district will apply the higher of the two scores to the student’s transcript.

Historically, the assistant superintendent said, over 90 percent of students in the Half Hollow Hills pass the older version of the exam, and 60 percent do so with advanced honors.

“There are still a lot of unknowns… It’s a high-stakes exam and we’re looking to cover our bases as much as possible,” O’Farrell said. “This is a temporary measure, but one we’re hoping will benefit students.”

Students in grades 3-8 took the new Common Core ELA and math assessments this year, and, as State Education Commissioner John King anticipated, student scores in Half and across the state dropped dramatically. This year, teachers at the high school level will continue to modify their curriculum to align with the Common Core standards, which will be measured by state Regents exams in June.

O’Farrell said teachers in the district are aligning their curriculum to prepare students for both tests. The district, he said, anticipates there will be greater changes to the content of the Integrated Algebra exam than the English test, and “curriculum materials…have been reviewed and modified to meet the requirements of both sets of exams.”

One parent, Angela Barry, raised concerns over keeping students motivated to do well on both the first and second exam.

O’Farrell and members of the board of education promised to keep students motivated to excel on both tests, particularly because the outcome of the first, Common Core formatted exam is the biggest unknown for both teachers and students.

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