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Letter: Regents exams are dumbed down

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Classroom Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

I read with interest that Long Island students are earning Regents diplomas at a greater rate ["Advanced studies," News, April 6]. The State Department of Education likes the public to think "standards" have been raised and that "we" are getting students to achieve at a higher level. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I can speak directly to the U.S. history Regents and the global studies Regents exams, since I have taught both subjects for many years to students with disabilities. I have also spoken to colleagues from science and math, and they concur that the Regents exams have become less than challenging. When students have to only know 35 percent to 40 percent of the tested material to pass, what standard has been raised? Compare a Regents exam from the 1970s to a Regents exam today, and I believe you will see a tremendous difference in the level of difficulty.

Curves built into the Regents exams' scoring are more than generous. When the document-based questions are written so that they are more about the method of answering, rather than a student's knowledge, something is not right. How can anyone be surprised when students go off to college and need remedial classes?

Are some of the upper-level Regents exams challenging and rigorous? Absolutely! The calculus, trigonometry and physics tests are very demanding. The problem is more with the core subjects at the lower levels, where the majority of students function: English, algebra, earth science, living environment, etc.

We do students a disservice by giving them a false predictor of their true capabilities after high school. Many of these students should be taking an academic program as well as a vocational program, but many choose to only follow the former.

Anthony Felicio Jr., Centereach

Editor's note: The writer teaches special education at Connetquot High School.

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