Shared from the 4/10/2018 Albany Times Union eEdition

Making creativity count

Regents working on option that would give students’ artwork weight of required exam

Skip Dickstein / Times Union

Members of the Board of Regents are seen during their meeting Monday at the Education Building in Albany.

Skip dickstein / times union

Commissioner of education maryellen elia addresses the monthly Board of regents meeting monday at the education Building in Albany. the board discussed the arts pathway.


New York high school students in future years may be able to swap an arts assessment consisting of portfolios or performances for one of the two required social studies Regents exams now needed for high school graduation.

While there’s no firm timetable, state education officials say they have been working steadily toward creating guidelines and requirements for an arts pathway that could start in the lower grades and run through high school.

“We’re not quite completed yet,” Regents board member Roger Tilles said of the initiative which dates back at least three years.

“Many people are getting, as I am, questions about whether we Monday at a Board of Regents meeting during which state education officials gave an update on a special commission to develop the arts pathway.

Schools that offer Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs already have established arts sequences but such schools tend to be in more affluent areas and relatively few students take those as a Regents exam substitute.

Indeed, educators said, the lack of resources both to develop a cohesive arts sequence and to implement it in the schools remains a problem.

“We have never made this a priority in the budget,” said Tilles.

The arts assessment could consist of a portfolio as well as a performance in one of several arts disciplines such as visual arts, music, or theater.

Students who are new English speakers or who have disabilities could, through their portfolios, demonstrate skills and abilities that wouldn’t come through on a traditional multiple choice or essay exam.

The arts pathway would likely be part of the “four plus one option” in which students can forego either the U.S. history or global studies Regents in favor of an alternative.

There already are some options in that vein, including a career and technical education assessment.

Of students who were on track to graduate in 2017, about 6 percent statewide took one version of a four-plus-one assessment, according to data from the Education Trust-New York, which tracks educational equity issues.

The four-plus-one programs varied between students taking advanced math exams instead of a social studies test to those taking a career and readiness assessment.

In Albany County, about 20 students used a four-plus-one track.

Typically, a Regents diploma requires passing five Regents exams in English, math, science and U.S. history as well as global studies.

While some believe avoiding the Regents exams in favor of another assessment amounts to lowered standards, others noted that the four-plus-one program doesn’t allow students to avoid math or science exams. Such exams have often been viewed as more rigorous and precise than those in the social sciences.

The Board of Regents on Monday also reviewed some of the new requirements schools will face as part of the federal Every Child Succeeds Act, passed by Congress in 2015.

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said the new law continues the concept of receivership, under which schools that have shown three years of decline on English and math results would face closure or reorganization.

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