Passing 9th Grade Regents Exams

by JAC and Ben's Mom 22. June 2016 08:40

The first round of Regents Exams are done. The scores are back. It’s been a long, exhausting year.

My son gave up lunch/down time/ time with peers for Algebra 1 math lab after having an 80 average first quarter. He saw his Algebra and Earth Science teachers 2-4 times a week before or after school for extra help. Attended weekly district regent’s review. Plus he has resource room every day for support. We paid out a mortgage payment worth of cash to the tutor to prepare for Earth Science. The Regent exams are very stressful for everyone in the family. My son would be too exhausted to participate in after school activities preferring to concentrate on his homework and have family time or an hour of TV or video games on school days.

 

For kids that struggle with reading, nuanced  language, large content tests, testing anxiety and other disabilities these tests are stressful, fraught with anxiety, worry about failure and repeating tests. We want our kids to be challenged, giving them a rigged test that is more a test of navigating trick questions than content is not that. My son traded in his lunch, time with peers, after school activities for home work, remediation, academics. Things like peer interaction, time to make new friends and discover passions, part of the high school experience and what help make well rounded young adults my child gave up to pass a test. It’s not like giving up fun and time with peers for academics is new to my son, it is not, it has been like that for years. In middle school he only had chorus every other day while his peers had Art, Family Home Consumers and Tech. He had labs and resource room, extra help before school, during lunch. It helped him to get on the honor roll and stay on the honor roll. In 9th grade, I refused the labs so he could take art for the first time in years. His work in computer graphic art had all been self-taught to this point. We were so proud to celebrate his work at the District wide show case of the arts and again at the High School Honors Art Exhibit. It made up a little bit for the disappointment he felt at 8th grade moving up when they handed out an Art award that he “never got the chance to try for”. 

 

It’s important that students have something at school that they are good at, that inspires them and in a long day of classes that are prepping them for a June test, gives them something to look forward to.

My son has worked hard. He was fortunate to have wonderful teachers through middle school and a resource teacher that taught him well how to advocate for himself and helped him get organized and develop the work ethic for school that serves him so well now.  9th grade was tough, he missed the projects that made him so successful in middle school and better showcased his talents and knowledge of a subject area. It was hard to have classes that were just prepping for tests and relying on test scores to show how well he knew the content and how well he was doing. In the past he was able to use perfect projects that he would pour his energy into to offset inconsistent test scores due to his disabilities. Not all kids are good at tests.  This year, my son had a great science teacher who engaged my son in science for the first time. It’s always been a difficult subject with tough vocabulary and concepts. His teacher made himself available for questions before and after school and held extra help. We had a fantastic tutor who has known my son for years and got the best work out of him.  He attended extra help with his math teachers and attended the district Algebra I review every week. His resource room teacher also helped. I owe much of my son’s success to the support of his teachers.

 

In the end my guy passed the Algebra I with a 77 and the Earth Science with a 75, and 80 average for the year. It was a big relief when these rigged tests plunge many students into a failure cycle of test and punish.

 

It is expensive for our one income home. It is costly when childhood is fleeting. Next year is more of this test prep classes for Regents and more worry about my kid’s diploma. It’s not a fun roller coaster. I will cross my fingers for more skilled, experienced and kind teachers for him. I will continue to advocate for decoupling all Regents Exams from the graduation requirement so kids that are not good at tests, but are capable and gifted can get a recognizable diploma that allows them to go out in the world and get more education or fulfill their dreams in any way they can imagine. 

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