New York State DOE cancels June history and government Regents exams

New York State DOE cancels June history and government Regents exams
The New York State Education Department canceled the June Regents exams in light of a recent shooting at a Buffalo supermarket earlier this month. (Photo from the Island 360 archives)

The New York State Education Department announced Tuesday that the history and government Regents exams scheduled for June 1 have been canceled, with officials citing the need to analyze the framework of the tests in light of the recent supermarket shooting in Buffalo.

The exams, which normally are held in January, June, and August, must be passed for a student to receive a high school diploma in the state of New York.  They were scheduled to take place next week.

Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the department, said that some content in the exams could potentially “compound student trauma caused by the recent violence in Buffalo.”

“While developed by NYS-certified social studies teachers more than two years ago and field-tested to confirm that the exam’s content is educationally sound, the tragedy in Buffalo has created an unexpected and unintended context for the planned assessment,” DeSantis said in a statement. “In the wake of the Buffalo tragedy, it is not appropriate to administer the exam with a question that could compound the grief and hardship faced by our school communities.”

Ten people were killed in a Buffalo supermarket earlier this month when a white 18-year-old wearing military gear fired a rifle and shot 13 individuals, 11 of whom were black, according to law enforcement officials. Payton Gendron, the suspected gunman, was wearing a helmet camera when he opened fire at the Tops supermarket and live-streamed the shooting, officials said.

Gendron was indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder charges and was being held without bail, according to multiple reports.

Betty A. Rosa, the Education Department commissioner, said a review of the exams will be conducted and the department will ask the state’s Board of Regents to approve a graduation exemption for students who were scheduled to take the June exams.

The regulatory change presented to the Board of Regents will include exemptions for any student planning on taking the exam in June and August this year and in January 2023, Rosa said.

“New York has exceptional school communities that show unwavering dedication to their students,” Rosa said. “The department is committed to supporting our students, schools, and communities in the wake of the tragedy in Buffalo. We will work together to ensure that goodness and compassion will always triumph over ignorance and hatred.”

Regents exams for January 2021 were also canceled by the department due to the coronavirus pandemic. High school students scheduled to take the exams had modified assessment requirements to receive their diplomas.

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