As we high school teachers kick off Regents this week, the English teachers among us will have no doubt turned away dozens of students looking for their scores on the English Regents. The English Regents was given two weeks ago, two weeks before any other Regents, because it is a brand-new test format and the testing gnomes in Albany will need to norm it and curve it and all that before they establish what the raw cut score is.
I'm interested to see the results of this process. I scored the exam at my school, of course, and I was underwhelmed by the results. When I first saw the new exam format in the fall, my first reaction was one of something like revulsion; namely, "This test is so darn easy." But I don't know that the students at my school did all that well on an exam that I thought was lowballed quite a bit.
I think, then, what comes out of Albany will likely send a message about what direction testing is really going in. If we have a huge passing rate, it will signal a retreat from (at least paying lip service to) the idea of higher standards and more difficult tests. If we see a precipitous drop from scores in past years, then perhaps we can expect a continuation of the tough-love policy on students, which might not be such a bad thing. But if Regents passing rates are going to go the way of the proficiency exam results in elementary and middle schools--that is, that they'll be factored into a "teacher report card" grade of some kind--then we as teachers will need to be even more involved with what these tests represent and what they actually measure, as well as with what the scores are and where they come from.
What are you "reading" into the new English Regents?