To test or not to test?

Local schools cancel, rethink midterms this year

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In December of 2021, the New York State Education Department announced that the January 2022 Regents examinations would be canceled due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New York set a daunting record last week with more COVID-19 cases reported in one day than ever before,” commissioner Betty A. Rosa said in a press release in December. “Once again, the January Regents exams cannot be safely, equitably, and fairly administered across the state. We will continue to work with our schools, districts, and stakeholders to ensure they have what they need to provide academic, social and emotional, and mental health supports for our students.”

Due to this change, districts in the area have altered or changed their plans for midterms this year to keep students safe and classes continuing. In a letter to students and families from earlier this month that was obtained by the Islip Bulletin, the Bay Shore Union Free School District detailed their plans for midterms this year.

“Based on the cancellation of the January Regents exams, along with the challenges presented in administering formal exams to students that may not be physically in the building due to quarantine or isolation, we will not be administering any formal out-of-class midterm exams this January,” high school principal Stephen Gordon said in the letter.

However, in a statement to the Islip Bulletin, Gordon stressed that Bay Shore is not canceling midterms, but simply restructuring them. 

“Bay Shore High School has not canceled midterms; the building has revised its mid-year assessment period to take into account the cancellation of New York State Regents exams,” Gordon said. “We made the decision to have students continue to report to school for instruction while allowing teachers the flexibility to administer mid-year assessments or final exams during class.”

Instead of out-of-class exams, Bay Shore will hold regularly scheduled classes from Jan. 25 to Jan. 28. The letter stated that there will be no stand-alone midterm grades for any courses and that course percentage that is allocated for midterms in full-year courses will be evenly distributed amongst the four marking periods.

In West Islip, the district canceled midterm exams to “capitalize on instructional time in the classroom.” The Islip UFSD has not changed much in terms of administering midterms. The district has decided, however, to go to a block schedule. Usually, this model is used in June. On Jan. 26, 27 and 28 (Wednesday-Friday), there will be three 95-minute periods per day over the three days for students to take midterms and half-year course finals. East Islip has also decided to cancel their midterms. Central Islip did not respond to requests for comment.

Because of the cancellation of the January Regents exams, the NYS Education Department is planning to ask the Board of Regents to “approve modifications to the assessment requirements that students must meet to earn high school diplomas, credentials, and endorsements. These modifications apply to all students who are completing a secondary-level course of study or make-up program in January and are scheduled to participate in one or more of the January 2022 Regents Examinations.”

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