The Business Council opposes this bill because it both undermines high standards, and is unnecessary.
The state Education Department already has a process in place whereby alternative assessments to the Regents exams can be vetted for their validity and reliability. In fact students can already choose to take several other nationally and internationally recognized exams rather than a Regents exam in certain subjects.
The state assessment panel reviews external assessments (which can be presented to the panel by any organization) to make recommendations to the commissioner regarding whether or not they should be accepted as alternatives to Regents exams. Criteria used to make such a determination relate to whether or not proposed alternatives assess the learning standards, are valid, reliable and rigorous enough.
Furthermore the development of portfolio performance-based assessments that meet the criteria in the bill (if possible – research has cast doubt on that) would be extremely expensive. This legislation provides no funding to the department to create such assessments.
This legislation would introduce unreliable subjectivity into the assessment process for some select students by exempting them from some of the Regents requirements. Allowing high school graduation to be largely based on a school's discretion – even if only for a certain group of students/school districts – only serves to absolve schools of the responsibility of the providing every student with a meaningful high school education.
The Business Council opposes any legislation that will undermine the valid and reliable assessment of New York State's learning standards.
This legislation will be included as one of the scoring measurements of The Business Council's “Vote for Jobs Index 2005.” This is The Business Council's annual assessment of legislator's action on key issues of concern to the state's business community.