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New York May Ease Test Requirements for Graduation

The New York State Board of Regents appears to be edging closer to easing high school graduation requirements.

According to local news media reports, the board is considering reducing from five to four the number of Regents exams that students must pass in order to earn a diploma. Federal law requires that students take tests in English/language arts, mathematics, and science, so the test that would be dropped would be one of the social studies exams: U.S. history or global history.

A final vote on the issue is anticipated at the board's meeting in October.

According to Chalkbeat, the global history test, in particular, has kept some students from graduating.

In addition to mulling the possibility of requiring only four exams, the board is also considering keeping the number at five, but allowing students to trade one of the social studies tests for one in a variety of assessments in career and technical education, such as culinary arts, or carpentry, Chalkbeat said. They're studying whether tests of the arts might be added to that list.

In response to critics who see the move as a lowering of standards, board Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch has said it is a way to free students from rigid requirements and allow them more ways to earn their diplomas. Education Commissioner John King told the board at its meeting on Monday that the plan would not weaken graduation requirements, according to WNYC.

"We can recognize multiple pathways that are similarly rigorous, that ensure students are ready for college and careers, but allow a degree of student choice and a degree of variety in the programs that students pursue while in high school," he said, according to WNYC.

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