State Needs To Reschedule Tests For City Students

For two Jamestown High School students, a snow day on Jan. 22 came at the worst possible time.

Needing to take Regents tests in order to graduate, school was cancelled because of a storm that dropped several inches of snow and brought bitter cold that dropped temperatures to below zero. It was the type of storm that happens dozens of times in a typical New York state winter. More than a month after the storm, the two students are still waiting to hear from the state Education Department when they can take the tests.

To make matters worse, nearly 200 other students also missed the tests. Deke Kathman, district superintendent, told school board members he doesn’t expect the state Education Department to make an accommodation for those students, but at least they can take the tests in June when other Regents tests are administered.

It is beyond ridiculous that the state Education Department doesn’t have a formal policy to handle school cancellations on Regents test days. In a state allegedly doing everything it can to increase the number of students graduating from high school, there is no reason to make a student wait months to take a test necessary to receive a high school diploma.

It’s bad enough that New York state didn’t have a policy in place for such instances. Did it somehow slip through the cracks that New York state gets snow storms? Do state Education Department officials have their noses so far up their textbooks as to not realize they may need a policy in place to quickly reschedule Regents tests so students can move on to the next chapter of their lives?

We often hear school officials – both locally and statewide – justify new programs or new spending because “it will help the children.” What is state officials’ reasoning, then, for dragging its heels rescheduling the January Regents tests?

Surely, it’s not because it’s what’s best for the students.