Friday, January 28, 2011

Italian Regents Exam in Jeopardy

Earlier this year, The NYS Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary, and Continuing Education proposed a measure to eliminate all high school language Regents exams, except Spanish and French. Other foreign language exams on the chopping block include: Hebrew, Latin, and German. The cuts originally proposed in June 2010 , were suggested by the State Education Department in response to a request in April 2010 from NYSUT, New York State School Boards Association, and School Administrators Association of New York State, for an additional 7 million from the state budget to preserve the state's comprehensive assessment exam. The reason for the budgetary shortfall are explained, at least in part, by a increase of more than 30 million dollars in carrying out evaluations for grades 5-8 that are mandated by No Child Left Behind.

A December report from the NYS Department of Education on the Regents 2011-12 Conceptual Proposal on State Aid to School Districts suggests the elimination of all examinations not needed for Federal accountability as one of three options being considered to address the state deficit. These subjects include the following Regents exams: Italian, French, Spanish, US History and Government, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science and Geometry. However, this is the least favored option, as the State Department of Education feels it will "erode educational accountability."

The Board of Regents are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the State, including the The University and the New York State Education Department. Regents examinations are required in New York State for most high school students to graduate.

Earlier this week, the American Association of Teachers of Italian issued an urgent appeal to members of the community, asking them to resist the elimination of the New York State Regents examinations by signing an online petition.

A recent e-mail from the National Association of Italian American Women (NOIAW) in support of the petition suggested the elimination of the Italian exam my have larger implications, the end of thousands of Italian language courses.

The e-mail provided figures for the change in number of test takers for all six languages from June 2006 through 2009.

Italian - 8,250 (7,949 in 2006 )

Latin - 2,223 (2,161 in 2006)

German - 2,076 (2,148 in 2006)

Hebrew - 149 (124 in 2006)

French - 17, 076 (18,503 in 2006)

Spanish - 86,780 (83,495 in 2006)

While, the French exam test takers have declined by 7% and German by 3.3%, Latin examination test takers have increased by just under 3%, Hebrew 3.3%, Spanish 3.9%, andItalian by 3.7%. It would be seemingly hard to justify cuts to any of these programs based on these numbers alone.

This news is especially devastating, as the AP Italian exam was just reinstated earlier this month, after an almost two year struggle from many Italian and Italian organizations to restore it.

Just yesterday, a large snowstorm caused school cancellation's in New York City and its surrounding suburbs. This left many student's who were scheduled to take Regents exams, and the teachers that worked so hard to teach the material, more than a little unsettled.

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