New York State Eliminates More Foreign Language Exams

Cara Matthews for Albany Watch, May 17, 2011:

Faced with continued shortfalls for Regents exams, the state Board of Regents voted today to make a total of $8 million in reductions to the program for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The state Education Department asked the state to provide $15 million from the general fund, but it only received $7 million.

The cuts will eliminate the January administration of Regents exams, which will save $1.4 million and eliminate the Italian, French and Spanish exams, which will save $700,000. Postponing the development of English/language arts tests for grades 9 and 10 will save $1.2 million, and continuing the elimination of grades 5 and 8 social studies exams will reduce costs by $800,000. (They were also eliminated this school year.)

The Board of Regents will save $3.9 million of the $8 million through administrative steps as follows:
—Identifying additional production cost reductions, leveraging other funding streams and making necessary workforce changes, $2.3 million.
—Reducing the number of assessments printed and shipped (Regents and No Child Left Behind) to better align with the actual number of tests administered, $700,000. Districts that order surplus exams will be responsible for the extra cost.
—Reviewing vendor contracts to improve cost-effectiveness, and canceling contracts and in-source exam activities where possible, $600,000.
—Expanding electronic distribution of related exam materials, including teachers guides and scoring instructions.

In recent years, the state Education Department has been able to use federal funds to fill the funding gap, but they are no longer available, according to the agency. But this is not the first time the Board of Regents has had to slash Regents exams.

Regents voted in June 2010 to cut costs by more than $6 million by eliminating grades 5 and 8 social studies exams; grade 8 second-language proficiency exams; component retesting in math and English/language arts; high school foreign-language exams in German, Hebrew and Latin; and Algebra2/Trigonometry and chemistry exams given in August. They continued cost-savings measures that had been put in place in 2009 to save $4 million.

For 2010-11, Regents were able to restore the proposed cuts of the January administration of the exams, exam translations and the high school Italian exam through a one-time revenue transfer of $2.5 million.

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3 responses to “New York State Eliminates More Foreign Language Exams

  1. Daniel Joseph Woodburn

    New York State is in a race to under fund and cut its education programs to such a basic level….the children attending public schools will not receive an adequate education to prepare them for further studies at the next level…college! Elimination of foreign language regents…so foreign language teachers may be laid off without the worry of having to prove student are getting a quality education with regards to foreign language study to prepare them for a global economy and the numerous Spanish spoken in America in 2011 and the future years. Spanish speaking people in America and NYS is on the rise and communication with these people is a must. Communication is needed to have unity and understanding among the masses. NYS is watering down its public education to the point it will be rendered worthless…unable to prepare children for the future by giving a sub-standard education in place of a quality one needed to compete with other students in other states and countries! This is a National Shame! Governor Andrew Cuomo should take a page out of his fathers legacy…Mario Cuomo who would never turn his back on educational opportunity for all concerned by allowing funding to be cut at the expense of NYS children!

  2. Chris

    As a recent college graduate, I hold a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and as a result of my education I am able to communicate bilingually with customers at the local supermarket, assisting them and making sure their shopping experience is fantastic. Being able to speak Spanish has opened the door for me in my abilities and qualifications in the job market. Last year, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain and I had a successful learning experience living as a Spanish native. I flourished in my abilities speaking Spanish with my house mother, passerby and instructors. I did not just improve upon my speaking, reading and writing abilities in Spanish, I also learned about the Spanish culture and made several friendships and connections with individuals halfway across the world. I was able to communicate fluently in Spanish with my Chinese classmates in my grammar, translation and speaking courses. In general, learning other languages breaks down barriers between individuals and encourages active communication. It also allows us as a people of the United States to reach out to others who do not speak our native tongue of English. Language intelligence is much needed in today’s competitive global economy. Knowing another language brings opportunity to an individual to work in several professions including business, education, health care and government. In order to assess the knowledge and competency of individuals who are gifted in foreign languages, we need to utilize their abilities and strengths by testing their knowledge based skills. Eliminating the New York State Regents Exam in foreign language sends a clear message out to educators, parents and students that building a strong educational foundation in the assessment of communicating in a foreign language in oral, written and reading skills does not matter. The New York State Learning Standards for foreign language education are communication and culture. How will teachers assess the students’ understanding and competency without a test such as the New York State Regents Exam? Students, whose strengths lie linguistically, may be deprived of the chance and the opportunity to use their skills for the good of the future, others, themselves and their country without adequate assessment. Gifted students who flourish in foreign language should not be deprived of the opportunity to be tested in their skills while the rest of their peers who successfully are tested in other subjects such as mathematics or science. Children are the future and if they are not properly exposed nor assessed in learning foreign language they are being deprived of their education all at the expense of saving tax dollars

  3. Pingback: Modern Hebrew in Personal Identity Development « כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה

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