History Canceled:Regents Eliminates History Assesments

The New York State Board of Regents voted to approve two sets of strategies to achieve cost reductions in the state assessment program at its full Board meeting in Albany this week. History educators will no doubt be appalled at the elimination of 5th and 8th grade Social Studies examinations, which include the history curriculum. The two plans were laid out in a press release:

* If the State budget includes the $7 million that the Regents have requested for the assessment program, the Board approved a cost reduction of $4.25 million to be achieved through reduced reliance on educational specialists in developing tests ($1.25 million), discontinuance of paper-based scoring materials for examinations ($.60 million), elimination of component retesting for high school Math and English exams ($1.6 million), and elimination of 5th and 8th grade Social Studies examinations ($.80 million).

* If the State budget does not include the $7 million that the Regents have requested, or a final State Budget is not in place by August 1, 2010, the Board approved additional reductions of $6.1 million to further offset the deficit. These reductions would be achieved by eliminating Grade 8 second language proficiency exams ($2.0 million), eliminating August administration of Algebra II/Trigonometry and Chemistry high school Regents exams ($.8 million), eliminating all high school Foreign Language exams except for Spanish and French($1.2 million), an immediate end to translation of state assessments into Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean, and Russian while continuing translation into Spanish ($.75 million), and eliminating January high school Regents exams ($1.4 million).

Should additional funds be included in the P-12 budget the reductions listed last in the priority order above would be the first to be restored.

&#8220These were tough decisions made in light of the State’s difficult financial situation&#8221 Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said, &#8220Foremost in our consideration was the concern we heard from stakeholders across the State that the cuts to the assessment program made to achieve savings should not have an impact on high school graduation.&#8221

Background on these decisions was also provided in the press release, as follows:

The State Education Department’s expense to operate the assessment program continues to rise in light of the State’s fiscal crisis as a result of several factors including: inflation, the addition of examinations, increased cost of testing vendor contracts, and the need for more test security. Based on the Executive Budget, SED projects a deficit of approximately $11.5 million in available funding in 2010-11 for P-12 programs, including the assessment program. The Regents have requested $7 million in additional State funds for the assessment program from the Legislature. The State Education Department has limited ability to address the P-12 deficit by redirecting federal or state funds dedicated to specific purposes by title or statute. SED will explore further internal cost reduction strategies to eliminate the remaining deficit of $1.1 million in the P-12 budget.

Full details of the cost reduction strategies the Board of Regents approved are on the web.

A webcast of the full board meeting of the Board of Regents is also available online.

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