New York – A new New York State Regents Algebra exam was scheduled to be administered for the first time on June 3, 2014 which also coincides with Erev Shavuos. This presented a serious conflict for yeshiva high school students who want to meet their diploma requirements but cannot take a Regents exam on Erev Yom Tov when their schools are closed.
Agudath Israel of America and the Jewish Education Project intervened with the New York State Education Department (SED) and received the good news that students in yeshivos that are closed on Erev Shavuos will not be required to take the new Algebra Regents exam this year. They will only be required to take the older version of the exam called the Integrated Algebra exam which will be administered on June 20, 2014.
Earlier this year, Agudath Israel learned that the original June 2014 Regents Examination Schedule included Regents exams scheduled for Tuesday, June 3 and Wednesday, June 4, 2014. These days coincide with Erev Shavuos and Shavuos. Typically, Regents exams are scheduled for mid to late June.
After learning of this conflict, Mrs. Deborah Zachai, Director of Education Affairs for Agudath Israel, and Rabbi Martin Schloss, Director of Government Relations and General Studies, Department of Day Schools and Yeshivot at the Jewish Education Project, immediately brought the issue to the attention of Ken Wagner, Deputy Commissioner of SED’s Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Educational Technology.
As a result of their discussions, the Regents exam scheduled for Wednesday, June 4 – the first day of Shavuos – was moved to a different day. However, SED said that they were unable to change the date for the Algebra Regents scheduled for Tuesday, June 3.
The Jewish groups did not let the matter rest. Mrs. Zachai and Rabbi Schloss conferenced with SED staff explaining that, as they had anticipated, most yeshivos confirmed they would be unable to administer the test and the students would be unable to take the test on Erev Shavuos, as most schools would be closed that day. They asked that, for this year, yeshiva students be permitted to meet their diploma requirements by taking the Integrated Algebra exam, scheduled for June 20, 2014 which would not present a conflict.
Last week, Agudath Israel received word that SED granted the Jewish groups’ request and advised that students in schools that are closed on Erev Shavuos will only be required to take the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam. Yeshivos wishing to administer the new Algebra Regents exam in August 2014 or January 2015 will have the option to do so, but will not be required to do so.
“Kudos to the State Education Department for demonstrating great sensitivity to the religious needs of our yeshivos,” Mrs. Zachai stated.
In ongoing discussions with Mrs. Zachai and Rabbi Schloss, the SED stated that they will work together to help ensure that such conflicts do not occur in future years.