State must address Regents exam flaws


On June 16, the New York State Board of Regents issued a dryly worded “Notice to Teachers” regarding this year’s geometry Regents exam. It read:

“This notice applies to students who took the June 16, 2017 Regents Examination in Geometry (Common Core). As a result of discrepancies in the wording, Questions 14 and 22 do not have only one clear and correct answer.

“Question 14: When scoring this examination, either choice 3, the correct answer indicated in the Scoring Key, or choice 1 should be accepted and awarded credit.

“Question 22: When scoring this examination, all students should be awarded credit regardless of the answer, if any, they record on the answer sheet for this question.

“Please photocopy this notice and give a copy of it to each teacher scoring the Regents Examination in Geometry (Common Core). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your hard work on behalf of the students in New York State.”

Since June 16, yet another “discrepancy” in the exam has been discovered, this time by a student at Ward Melville High School, in Suffolk County, who has been described as a math whiz.

Note that the state apologized to the teachers scoring the exam, but not to the students who took it. The teachers aren’t the ones suffering because of the state’s inability to produce a fair and accurate exam. Those students are.

All Regents exams become part and parcel of students’ college transcripts. Thus, the tests help determine students’ futures. The state is obligated to produce Regents exams of the highest caliber. Yet in the case of the geometry Regents, at least, it has failed to do that.

Moreover, ever since the new Common Core geometry Regents was introduced in 2015, it has been a disaster. In its first year, passing rates in Nassau County plummeted from the 85 to 90 percent range down to 70 percent, and they have yet to recover.

Clearly, there are flaws in this exam’s design that the state must remedy for future generations of high schoolers. For this year’s class of exam takers, however, the damage is already done.