Students & Staff React to the NY State Education Department’s Unexpected Cancellation of the U.S. History Regents


Photo by T.J. Lanks

Students and faculty were surprised to learn that the United States History Regents examination was canceled by the New York State Education Department. A letter was released by Betty Rosa, the Commissioner of Education, on Tuesday, May 24th that disclosed this unexpected information.

It was stated by the Education Department that as a result of the tragic shooting in Buffalo that occured in early May, the examination, which was supposed to be taken by students on June 1st, would not be administered in order to prevent any trauma from being compounded on students in New York State.

Despite the obvious relief of stress resulting from the decision, some consequences emerged due to the lack of a formal assessment for the course, according to Mr. Breyfogle, a history teacher. 

“I know [the decision] makes the students very happy and relieved [since they] can now scratch that off their to-do list, [however,] assessments provide teachers an insight to student understanding and gives us valuable information on how much students have learned throughout the years and their strengths and areas of concern in the social studies discipline,” he said.  “The Regents exam could have given us a reflection on areas of focus for instruction in the next school year.”

An immediate issue that was produced by the cancellation of the Regents examination was found in the need for an alternative assessment of what the students have learned in the course.

A project entailing significant decisions made by the Supreme Court will serve as a final assessment of students’ knowledge, as stated by Mr. Breyfogle. This assignment will not overwhelm students, but it will still measure what they have learned to a certain extent.

“In lieu of the Regents exam, the U.S. History teachers collaborated on creating a presentation project in which groups of students will research a landmark Supreme Court Case and use the social studies skills that they have been practicing all year,” he added. “They will formally present their [projects] to their [classes].  Contextualization, sourcing, argumentation, [and] examination of sources [are all skills that] will be used in this culminating project.”

Even though the decision to cancel the examination presented an obstacle to teachers across the state, many students appreciated the state’s consideration of their perspective and ability. 

The mental health of students was an appropriate factor for the Education Department to consider when making the decision, according to Junior Abby Daly, who is currently enrolled in the U.S. History course. She is glad that she and her classmates no longer have to worry about taking the examination.

“I think this year was definitely hard for a lot of people, and everything they went through, so it was good to cancel the Regents,” she said. “I feel like there are [many] causes [for the decision], like COVID-19. People in other places are still facing a lot of issues. We were lucky to have a pretty normal year, but a lot of schools [weren’t].”

This feeling was widespread among students who were slated to take the U.S. History Regents at Nanuet Senior High School. The decision was well-thought-out and appropriate,according to Junior Joey Bourgeois.

“[I feel that] the decision was a good decision,” he noted.

Overall, a growing opposition to standardized testing and Regents examinations in general exists among students. Students’ performance on standardized tests is becoming less crucial, according to Bourgeois.

“Standardized tests are becoming less important for deciding whether you should get into colleges, so I don’t think [the Regents] is as important as regular finals and stuff like that,” he said. “Since not all curriculum is the same at all of the schools in New York State, it’s better to have different finals even if you’re learning the same subject.”