March 26, 2021
Dear Parents,
Interim Commissioner Betty A. Rosa
Last week, the Board of Regents acted on a series of emergency regulations to allow for exemptions to diploma requirements associated with the June 2021 and August 2021 Regents Examination administrations. With the COVID-19 crisis still affecting the State of New York and students having varied levels of in-person instruction, the Board and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) are taking necessary steps to provide essential flexibility for the state’s students, families, and educators.

These include actions to cancel the August 2021 Regents Exams and, should the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) deny NYSED's waiver request, only four of the June 2021 Regents Exams will be administered; only Session 1 of the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math Tests will be required; and only the one-session Written Test component of the Grades 4 and 8 Science Tests will be administered.

The emergency regulations became effective on March 16, 2021 and will be presented for permanent adoption after publication in the State Register and expiration of the 60-day public comment period. A full description of the regulatory amendments and a supplemental presentation are available on the NYSED website.

NYSED continues to engage with USDE to find the best path forward in offering state assessments for the children of New York. In order to inform these discussions, we are engaging with stakeholders across the state to gain insight on the local approaches to student assessment. The regulatory amendments advanced last week provide fairness for our students; however, we remain hopeful that USDE will provide the necessary waivers to allow our educators to engage in the important work of fostering a safe and healthy learning environment for each child in New York State.

The Board of Regents also recently adopted revisions to the New York State Learning Standards for Languages Other Than English (LOTE). The revisions will align the standards with high-leverage practices and update them to represent what students should know and be able to do in the languages and cultures which they study. The full learning standards may be found on NYSED's website. In addition, NYSED presented regulation changes to rename the learning standards from LOTE to “World Languages.” Public comment on the proposed changes will be accepted through May 31.

Throughout the collaborative process of updating these standards, we listened to valuable input from an array of stakeholders, and we will continue to work with our partners as the revised standards are implemented to ensure they are working for all our children. The learning standards have been updated to ensure that students will learn the importance of appreciating other cultures and find success in our global economy. NYSED is dedicated to providing professional learning, resources, and guidance documents to prepare our educators for these much-needed changes.

Our goal throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to ensure that every child in New York has access to the services they need to be successful. Our career and technical education students are no exception. This week, NYSED proposed revisions to the State’s Perkins V Plan to address circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While all aspects of school operations have been affected by the pandemic, career and technical education programs face unique barriers to delivering all components of their programs including access to hands-on training and work-based learning opportunities.

Work-based learning is a fundamental component for CTE and one that many of our students haven’t been able to utilize due to social distancing. This is why these adjustments to our Perkins V Plan are so critical. I look forward to hearing from our stakeholders on this important issue.

Finally, in my last update, I mentioned SUNY's ​'Big Dreams, Small Step' campaign to provide assistance to high school students who are at risk of being left behind this year — and who stand to benefit the most from a college degree.

The City University of New York (CUNY) is also providing additional support for students to complete their applications, including application workshops this month. You can explore options with your children by reading about the 25 CUNY campuses across the five NYC boroughs and the thousands of CUNY degree choices. You can also visit the CUNY website to get to know the campuses and learn more about the application process.

As always, thank you for reading.


Betty A. Rosa