Why I Hate the History Regents – Part 1 of an ongoing series

(I originally wrote this a month ago, but do to a busy end of the year professional and a very unplanned move personally, I never got around to proofing and publishing it)

We had 15 seniors take the Global Regents exam who need to either pass it for the first time or improve their grade to above a 65 to get one of the three 65’s necessary for a local diploma. Three of these seniors are now set to graduate; five got a 65 and still need one more on another exam (Note: All five ended up graduating); four did not get a 65 but still only need one more (and will hopefully be getting it on US on Friday) (Note: 2 of the four did); four failed to pass and will not graduate.

I was responsible for trying to prepare our seniors for the Global Regents. I did my best to cover all of Global History in about twenty hours worth of review sessions over the past month. Every student who attended the majority of the sessions earned at least a 65 on the exam, so I’m feeling pretty good on that front.

With that said, I am mournful for the four who we know will not graduate on time. Looking at them one at a time, it’s really easy to place the blame on them individually. However, taken as a group, the structural limitations of using high stakes exams as a basis for earning a diploma are revealed. The bottom line is that when all of our seniors should have been well prepared for the Global Regents in 10th Grade, they had a first-year teacher who was not cut out to be in the classroom. This is the reality of teaching in the North Bronx. As much as we would like to higher only the best staff for our students, it is rare that we get top quality job applicants. We did not have any strong history candidates that year, and to this day I believe we hired the best one we saw. But he couldn’t cut it, and for that reason, our kids have suffered.  They don’t deserve to not walk with their classmates because of this.