Regents exam scores will account for 10% of student grades this year in Three Village Central School District, despite calls to extend a COVID-19 pandemic-era policy that only includes the scores when they improve student course grades.
The decision, which came after robust discussion and disagreement among board members at their Nov. 29 meeting, goes along with the recommendation of a district committee to include the scores at 10% of the final grade — down from the 12% that was policy before the pandemic reprieve.
Freshman board members Karen Roughley and David McKinnon spoke openly against including scores in all student grades, particularly because New York State does not mandate doing so for all districts, and they said it could disadvantage Three Village students who struggle with test anxiety, have special needs or experience a personal catastrophe before the test date.
“Using the Regents scores would decrease a student’s GPA and put them at a disadvantage against all the other students in the state who do not have it included, in applying for colleges and scholarships,” Roughley said.
The State Education Department’s website states it “does not require nor recommend the inclusion of Regents exam scores in the computation of final course averages,” and rather leaves it up to each district to decide.
McKinnon called this approach a failure of leadership. “The state doesn’t stand behind their test,” he said. “The state makes the test, they pass it out, they grade it, but then they have no effective policy on what we should do with that test.”
After parents — especially those of children with special needs — spoke out last spring, the previous board voted to extend the so-called Do No Harm policy through the end of the 2022-2023 school year with the caveat that a permanent decision should come this fall.
In recommending inclusion of Regents scores at 10%, the committee suggested students may not take the exams as seriously if the scores don’t count toward a course grade.
Trustee Vincent Vizzo, a former teacher and administrator who has a long affiliation with Three Village and said he was part of writing Regents exams in the past, admitted he was not a fan of the state tests and understands they can hurt students who do not do well. “I have very mixed opinions right now,” he said. “But if a committee of educators are saying that they want to keep the percentage, then I don’t think the board should micromanage and decide against what the committee is saying.”
Board president Susan Rosenzweig also expressed mixed feelings, saying she believes Do No Harm makes philosophical sense, but that there can be valuable information garnered from all students “meaningfully engaging in the assessments.”
When the remaining board members echoed Vizzo’s desire to defer to the committee of professional educators, Rosenzweig attempted to broker a compromise by suggesting the board include the scores at 5% instead of 10%, which she said was her “comfort level,” but only trustee Jeffrey Kerman expressed interest in changing the percentage, saying he would vote for either 5% or 10%.
Seeing no appetite for middle ground, Rosensweig cast the deciding vote with an audible sigh. “Because I guess it’s not going to go any other way,” she said.