2.8 Regents' Testing Program

SOURCES:
BoR POLICY MANUAL 3.7, REGENTS’ WRITING AND READING SKILLS REQUIREMENT (BOARD OF REGENTS APPROVAL OF REVISED POLICY EFFECTIVE AUGUST 4, 2004)
BOARD OF REGENTS MINUTES, 11/1987
BOARD OF REGENTS APPROVAL OF REVISED POLICY EFFECTIVE 8/4/2004
BOARD OF REGENTS APPROVAL OF REVISED REGENTS’ TEST GUIDELINES EFFECTIVE 3/21/2007

2.8.1 Regents’ Reading and Writing Skills Requirements and Exemptions

Students enrolled in undergraduate degree programs leading to the baccalaureate degree shall pass the Regents’ Reading Skills (RGTR 0198) and Regents’ Writing Skills (RGTE 0199) courses as a requirement for graduation. These courses are offered for institutional credit. Students may exempt these courses through examination by passing the Regents’ Tests or an approved alternative test in reading comprehension and in writing. Students enrolled in a Regents’ Skills course must pass the corresponding Regents’ Test in order to receive a passing grade for the course.

The following are the specific implementation procedures:

Exemption of Regents’ Skills Courses

  1. Students may exempt RGTR 0198 by scoring at or above specified scores on the following examinations:

    Examination Exemption Score
    Regents’ Reading Test 61
    SAT Reasoning, Critical Reading Section 510
    ACT Reading 23

    SAT or ACT scores must be from a national administration. Scores from institutional SAT or residual ACT tests are not acceptable for this purpose.

  2. Students may exempt RGTE 0199 by scoring at or above specified scores on the following examinations:

    Examination Exemption Score
    Regents’ Essay Test 2
    College Board Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition 3
    College Board Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition 3
    International Baccalaureate (IB) higher-level English 4
    SAT II English Writing (this test is no longer administered) 650
    SAT Reasoning, Writing Section Test 560
    SAT Reasoning, Writing Section Test 500 for students who also have at least 510 on the SAT Reasoning, Critical Reading Section
    ACT Combined English/Writing Test 24
    ACT Combined English/Writing Test 22 for students who also have at least 23 on the ACT Reading Test

    The following exemptions are not available for students enrolling in the University System after Spring Semester 2008:

    • SAT reading score of 530 and above for students who earn an “A” in English 1101
    • SAT reading score of 590 and above for students who earn a “B” in English 1101
    • ACT English score 23 and above for students who earn an “A” in English 1101
    • ACT English score 26 and above for students who earn a “B” in English 1101

    English 1102 may be used if English 1101 was exempted or credited by exam.
    All ACT and SAT scores used for exemption must be from a national test administration.

  3. Additional standardized test scores may be specified by the institution’s Chief Academic Officer for use in exempting RGTR 0198 and RGTE 0199. Such scores must be from a national test administration and must indicate a very high probability (at least .95) of passing one of the courses or the associated component of the Regents’ Test. Tests used to exempt the writing requirement must include an externally-graded writing sample.

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2.8.2 General Requirements

  1. As soon as possible upon entry, students must be informed of the Regents’ Skills Requirement and should be held accountable for taking the appropriate actions.
    • Effective communication to students about the requirement to take the Regents’ Test must be implemented by each institution. Institutions are encouraged to use appropriate incentives both for registering students to take the Regents’ Test and for insisting that they take it. Appropriate disincentives for ignoring requirements should also be adopted. These may include–at the institution’s discretion–charging a reasonable fee to students who choose not take the Regents’ Test when they are required to do so.
    • Since some students decline to take the Regents’ Test in spite of the institution’s best efforts, a non-appearance for a scheduled testing time except for sound medical or other reasons deemed sufficient by the institution will be treated administratively in the same way as a failure of the test. Institutions are responsible for effectively communicating their procedures.
  2. With few exceptions, all non-exempting students must take the Regents’ Test every semester, beginning with the initial semester, until they pass.

    Any student who is not enrolled in LS English or Reading must take each part of the Regents’ Test not previously passed or exempted in each semester of enrollment in a USG institution (after graduation from high school). Students in LS English or Reading must take the Regents’ Test in the semester after they have exited LS English or Reading (LS Math is not relevant here). No differentiation is made for transfer students.

  3. Institutions should implement the core curriculum so that at least the minimum collegiate level of reading and writing ability will be developed and should offer focused instruction for students who need help.

    When possible, institutions should require English 1101 (or equivalent) enrollment for those students who have just completed reading and writing LS requirements in order to facilitate their continued progression toward a degree.

  4. Part of English 1101 (or equivalent), as well as other core courses, should be devoted to facilitating and/or demonstrating students’ acquisition of the basic reading comprehension and writing skills at least to the level specified by Board of Regents’ Writing and Reading Skills Requirement and, in most cases, well beyond. In approaching this goal, it may be appropriate for the institution to develop out-of-class workshops or experiences taught concurrently with English 1101, but not as part of the credit requirements.

    Since the Regents’ Skills Requirement addresses the minimum levels of collegiate reading and writing skill, the core curriculum will develop that level in the great majority of students. However, there are some cases in which basic skills may be at such a low level that the student needs more help than offered through the core curriculum. So, in addition to the pass-fail status on the Regents’ Test, indicators of “low-failure” will be identified for institutional use. These indicate when students’ performance is not close to the cutoff point, which, in turn, will indicate that those students need early intervention in order to augment the core curriculum. The indicators (one for reading and one for writing) are included on students’ data records which are returned to institutions after each test administration (a “1” in column 54 of the Regents’ Test data record indicates a low-failure for reading and a “1” in column 55 of the Regents’ Test data record indicates a low-failure for essay).

  5. Students who perform at a very low level when taking the Regents’ Test for the first time should get immediate assistance. Others, at the discretion of the institution, may retake the Regents’ Test without such help.

    Low-Failure: If the score on the Regents’ Test is sufficiently low to be flagged at the low-failure level, the student will be required to participate in remediation in the next semester of enrollment. This remediation may be a set of non-credit workshops (or some similar intervention) designed to develop the specific skills necessary or may be the appropriate regular Regents’ Skills course.

    • Institutions may allow low-failure students to take an approved test to confirm the classification made by the first Regents’ Test administration. The test should be an official administration of the Regents’ Test if one is available prior to beginning the students’ remediation or a locally administered test approved by the Regents’ Testing Program Office. Because the low-fail classification has been shown to predict significant difficulty passing the Regents’ Test, a grade on the confirmatory test that is close to passing should be required before overturning that classification.
    • Students who do not test and are treated administratively as fails need not be automatically regarded as low-fails.
    • While the form of the remediation after the first failure is left to the institution, any remediation other than the Regents’ Skills course must meet two criteria:
    1. The institution’s VPAA must describe the intervention and assure the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG or her designee that the intervention has sufficient academic rigor to meet these needs; and
    2. The institution must monitor the impact on future Regents’ Test pass rates, report this effectiveness to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG or her designee, and make modifications as necessary to improve effectiveness.

    The decision of whether to charge for the workshop, and how much to charge, is regarded in the same way as any other course fee by the campus and needs approval by the President.

    Above Low-Failure: If the student fails the Regents’ Test at the first attempt, but scores higher than the low-failure level, informal advising/procedures may be used to determine whether the student should enroll in remediation (such as that mentioned for low-failure students), or whether another attempt of the Regents’ Test without remediation is advisable. This is an institutional decision.

  6. Students who perform at a very low level when taking the Regents’ Test for the second time must enroll in the Regents’ Skills course in the next semester of attendance. Other students who fail, but not at a low level, must participate in remediation, but the remediation may be the Skills course or another form of remediation.

    After the second failure of the Regents’ Test, remediation is required before the next attempt of the Regents’ Test. This remediation will follow the same parameters as for students classified as low-failure on the first attempt (see above). Students who are flagged as low-failures on the second administration should enroll in the appropriate regular Regents’ Skills course in the following semester unless a confirmatory test administration (as described above) indicates convincingly that the low-fail indicator was inaccurate.

  7. Students who fail the Regents’ Test for the third time must enroll in the appropriate Regents’ Skills course in the next semester of attendance. The number of hours completed is not a consideration in determining Skills course enrollment.

    After the third and any subsequent failure of the Regents’ Test, students must take the regular Regents’ Skills course in each semester of enrollment. However, institutions may treat part-time students somewhat differently as described below. When determining the number of failures of the Regents’ Test, institutions are not required to count a failure occurring during a semester in which a student is not taking any classes (students may be permitted to take the Regents’ Test during a semester in which they are not enrolled).

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2.8.3 Special Categories of Students

Students Holding a Baccalaureate or Higher Degree
A student holding a baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education will not be required to pass RGTR 0198 or RGTE 0199 in order to receive a degree from a USG institution.

Students Whose Native Language Is Not English
Each institution may develop special procedures for examining and exempting students whose native language is not English. These procedures shall require a formal examination of competence in English. At a minimum, the examination shall include the writing of an essay. The testing procedures may be locally developed and administered. The grading of the essay may be local and shall involve multiple raters, of which at least two of three must evaluate the essay as passing. The use of culturally neutral topics, the granting of extended time, and the use of translation dictionaries are permissible accommodations for the essay examination.

Students With Disabilities
Students with documented disabilities, who are competent in the skills required by the Regents’ Reading Skills and Regents’ Writing Skills Tests but who are unable to demonstrate competence in a standardized administration of the Regents’ Tests may request special testing accommodations as described in Section 2.8.10, Special Administrations of the Regents’ Test.

Former Students
All students, regardless of when they entered the system, must pass or exempt the Regents’ Skills courses as a requirement for graduation. Students who failed the Regents’ Reading Test before Fall Quarter, 1980, shall not be held to a higher passing standard at a subsequent retaking of the test than was in effect at the time of their original attempt.

Students Out of State
Students who are out of state may be permitted to have the Regents’ Tests administered out of state following guidelines established by their home institution and the procedures outlined in the Regents’ Testing Program Administration Manual.

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2.8.4 Part-time Students

Part-time students must take the Regents’ Test each semester, but at the institution’s discretion, need not take required remediation until after earning 20 college-level credit hours.

A part-time student is defined here as a student who takes fewer than 12 hours during his/her first term of enrollment. Part-time students must take the Regents’ Test in the first and each subsequent semester but are not subject to mandatory remediation or Regents’ Test Skills courses requirements until the semester after 20 credit hours have been earned, except in the case of part-time students who are flagged as low fails. Such low-fail students are subject to the same requirements as full time students. After 20 hours are earned, all requirements are in effect. Institutions may choose to apply the Regents’ Test rules for full time students to part-time students, and institutions may allow part-time students a maximum of two semesters before applying the Regents’ Test rules rather than counting numbers of hours.

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2.8.5 Transfer Students

Having passed RGTR 0198 and RGTE 0199 shall not be a condition of transfer into an institution.

Transfer students from non-USG institutions who do not exempt must take the Regents’ Test in the first semester of enrollment.

Any transfer student who is not specifically excluded through LS status (see above) must take the Regents’ Test in the first and each subsequent semester until passing it.

Because of the wide variety of start and stop times of summer semesters and mini-semesters, students coming from a non-USG institution (including a high school) who enter a USG institution for the first time during the summer semester, may take six semester credit hours or fewer without having that semester count towards the imposition of remedial work or the Regents’ Skills course.

No remedial work is required for out-of-system transfers in the initial semester. For subsequent semesters, transfer students should be classified for remediation and Regents’ Skills course purposes by how many semesters of coursework they transferred to the USG institution in addition to the one semester of attendance in the USG.

Example: After the first semester, a transfer student has been awarded 13 semester hours of transfer credit in addition to the 10 hours earned in the initial semester at another USG institution. At the beginning of the student’s second semester at the current institution, the student would be classified–for remediation and Regents’ Skills course purposes–as a third semester student and would therefore need some form of remediation if the Regents’ Test had not been passed.

Example: If this transfer student were awarded 30 semester transfer hours, then at the beginning of that student’s second semester at a USG institution, that student would be classified as a fourth semester student and would therefore need to enroll in the Regents’ Skills course if he/she had not passed the Regents’ Test in the first semester.

The confirmatory test as described in the section on low-failures may be permitted when out-of-system transfer students are required to enroll in the Skills course in the second semester at a USG institution.

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2.8.6 Guidelines for Regents’ Reading Skills and Regents’ Writing Skills Courses

Institutions are responsible for enforcing the following requirements related to the Regents’ Reading Skills and Regents’ Writing Skills courses.

  • Students enrolled in a Regents’ course must pass the corresponding Regents’ Test in order to receive a passing grade for the course.
  • Students not passing the course receive a “U” and must repeat the course until they pass. Those passing receive a grade of “S.”
  • Following are the course descriptions:

Regents’ Reading Skills (RGTR 0198)
The Regents’ Reading Skills course is intended to ensure that all graduates of USG institutions possess certain minimum skills in reading comprehension. Students work on improving their comprehension of material drawn from a variety of subject areas (social science, natural science and humanities) with various modes of discourse (exposition, narration and argumentation). Critical thinking and the following four major aspects of reading are emphasized: vocabulary in context, inferential and literal comprehension, and analysis.

Regents Writing Skills (RGTE 0199)
The Regents’ Writing Skills course is intended to ensure that all graduates of USG institutions possess certain minimum skills in writing. Students learn to evaluate their own writing strengths and weaknesses and work on improving their writing skills so that they are able to write an essay meeting the Regents’ criteria.

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2.8.7 Regents’ Skills Course Requirements

  1. After two terms in a Regents’ Skills course, qualifying students should take a section of that course with additional personalized instruction.

    For a student who has twice completed the regular Regents’ Skills course to the satisfaction of the instructors and institution but is still unsuccessful on the Regents’ Test, a Regents’ Skills course section must be offered with more personalized instruction than is afforded in the regular Skills courses. In this more focused course, the primary activity is reading and/or writing under the direct supervision and guidance of the instructor.

  2. After four terms in a Regents’ Skills course, qualifying students should take a section of that course with even more personalized instruction.

    For a student who has completed the regular Regents’ Skills course twice and has twice completed the first level of the more personalized Skills course to the satisfaction of the instructors and institution but is still unsuccessful on the Regents’ Test, an even more individualized Regents’ Skills course section must be offered.

    Examples include a one-on-one independent study and a lab course in which the primary activity is reading and/or writing under the direct supervision and guidance of an instructor who has background in the specific remedial subject. All students enrolled in this level of Skills course should be encouraged or required to be evaluated at a Regents’ Center for Learning Disorder (RCLD) or a similar campus facility for specific reading and writing impediments.

  3. The Board of Regents may allow waivers of the Regents’ Skills Requirement in very rare circumstances (estimated at no more than 1–2 a year System-wide) when, after enrollment, students develop documented medical conditions that make all testing methods inapplicable.

    To be eligible for the “medical waiver” a student must prove to the institution’s satisfaction that a medical condition with onset after the student’s initial enrollment in college resulted in reduced capacity to the point that the student cannot demonstrate the required level of reading and writing skill.

    The Chief Academic Officer at the student’s institution will provide to the Regents’ Testing Program (RTP) Office a report describing the justifications and documentation for the appeal. The documentation should include a detailed description of the medical condition on which the appeal is based and a statement affirming that the student has made all practical attempts to develop the required level of Regents’ skills through each appropriate level of Skills course at the institution. After the RTP Office assesses the adequacy and completeness of the appeal documentation, it is forwarded to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG or her designee for review. The final approval of the waiver is made by the Board of Regents.

    This waiver is restricted to students who have completed all coursework for graduation.

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2.8.8 Test Review Procedure

Students who fail the Regents’ Reading Test may have their tests hand-scored upon request. Due to security procedures, “in-person” reviews of reading tests are restricted to representatives of campus Chief Academic Officers. CAOs may agree to arrange reviews of reading tests (within Regents’ Testing Program Office guidelines) but are not obligated to do so. Charges may apply.

Students who fail the Regents’ Essay Test may request a formal review of his or her Regents’ Essay Test. The review procedures shall be as follows:

  1. A student must initiate the review procedure by mid-term of his/her first semester of enrollment after the semester in which the essay was failed. The review must be initiated, however, within one calendar year from the semester in which the failure occurred.
  2. Students whose essays are under review are not exempted from enrollment in the Regents’ Writing Skills course.
  3. The review will be initiated at the campus level, with procedural matters to be determined by the institution. The on-campus review, however, will be conducted by three faculty members designated by the institution as a review panel. The on-campus review panel may (1) sustain, by majority opinion, the essay’s failing score, thus terminating the review process; or (2) recommend, using the guidelines established by the Regents’ Testing Program Office, the re-scoring of the essay by that office. The student will be notified concerning the results of the on-campus review. A decision by the on-campus review panel to terminate the review process is final.
  4. If the on-campus panel recommends re-scoring of the essay, that recommendation will be transmitted in writing, along with the essay, to the office of the System Director of the Regents’ Testing Program. The Director will utilize the services of three experienced Regents’ essay scorers other than those involved in the original scoring of the essay to review the essay, following normal scoring procedures for the Regents’ Essay Test. The decision of the panel on the merits of the essay will be final, thus terminating the review process. The student will be notified through the institution concerning the results of the review.

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2.8.9 Test Administration

The Regents’ Reading Test and Regents’ Essay Test are to be administered in accordance with the instructions provided in the Regents’ Testing Program Administration Manual.

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2.8.10 Special Administrations of the Regents’ Test

The Regents’ Testing requirement for reading and writing skills may not be waived, for students with disabilities, but appropriate accommodations will be provided.

  1. Students with Sensory, Mobility, or Systemic Disorders
    • An alternative means of exempting or examining students with sensory, mobility, or systemic disorders as described in Section 3, Appendix E, may be used. Such examination shall equal the standards of the Regents’ Tests. In most cases, a Regents’ Test would be administered with accommodations determined by the institution on the basis of the student’s needs.
    • The Regents’ Reading Test administration for a student with a sensory, mobility, or systemic disorder should correspond as closely as possible to the student’s usual means of obtaining information from text. A visually impaired student, for example, could use the Braille, large-print, recorded or text-to-speech version of the Reading Test. If it is necessary for the Reading Test to be scored locally rather than submitted to the Regents’ Testing Program Office for scoring, a test form designated by the Regents’ Testing Program Office may be used.
    • If a student with a sensory, mobility, or systemic disorder is unable to handwrite an essay on the regular Essay Test form for rating, the institution has two options: the essay may be locally rated in the format produced by the student (e.g., typed or written on enlarged paper), or the essay may be copied to the regular Essay Test form by a proctor and submitted to the Regents’ Testing Program Office for rating. The Regents’ Testing Program Office cannot obtain ratings for essays that are not written on the regular test form or that are otherwise identifiable as special administrations.
    • The Regents’ Testing Program Office does not have to be informed when a student takes or passes an alternative test. However, the student record system must indicate that alternative procedures have been used. The documentation for each student is to be evaluated and maintained by the institution and summarized in the institution’s Annual Report on Learning Disorders.
  2. Students With Learning Disabilities or Other Documented Needs
    The following procedure is for the accommodation of students who are competent in the skills required by the Regents’ Reading Skills and Regents’ Writing Skills courses but are unable to demonstrate competence in a standardized administration of the Regents’ Tests because of a learning disorder as described in Section 3.11, Students with Learning Disorders, and documented according to general and specific guidelines outlined in Section 3, Appendices D and E.

    The documentation for each student is to be evaluated and maintained by the institution.

    Allowable accommodations and restrictions
    Accommodations that may be made are limited to the following:

    • Extended time
    • Separate room for test administration
    • Large-print test format
    • Use of a word processor, typewriter, or scratch paper for composing the essay. The student must handwrite the essay on the regular essay form for grading, or, if the student’s diagnosis indicates an inability to copy the essay, the test administrator or proctor must copy the essay as written by the student with no changes and send both the original and copied essay to the Regents’ Testing Program Office. *Reading of the essay to the student. If the student’s diagnosis indicates a visual processing deficit that prevents the student from reading his or her own essay accurately, the proctor may read the essay aloud exactly as written while the student makes corrections to the essay.
    • Transcription of reading test responses to the scanner sheet.

    Rating the tests
    Essays must be rated through the usual rating process, which does not allow for the provision of any information about the student to the raters. Raters cannot be asked to take a student’s disabilities into account when rating an essay. Instead, appropriate modifications in the test administration process must allow the student’s essay to be rated through the usual process.

    All test administrations must meet the following conditions:

    • The Essay and Reading Test responses must be submitted to the Regents’ Testing Program Office for scoring.
    • The product submitted must be in the standard format for grading: the essay must be handwritten on the regular essay form with no extra paper, and the Reading Test responses must be recorded on the student’s scanner sheet.
    • Except as indicated above under allowable exceptions for students who are unable to copy or read their own essays, the product submitted for grading must be produced by the student with no assistance provided or changes made by any other person.
    • Tests must be administered under secure conditions, and all work must be completed under supervision.

    Accommodations other than those described above may be made only upon recommendation of a Regents Center for Learning Disorders. The Centers will make recommendations for students with learning disabilities or acquired brain impairment.

    The Regents’ Reading and Writing Skills courses may not be waived for students with disabilities. However, appropriate accommodations will be provided.

  3. Students Enrolled In Regents’ Reading Skills or Regents’ Writing Skills Courses At Least Twice
    Students who twice perform well in RGTR 0198 or RGTE 0199 may be given extended time on the Regents’ Test (evidence should indicate that a student has the skills required for passing the corresponding Regents’ Test but is unable to display the skills during a timed test administration).

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2.8.11 Dictionary Use/Regents’ Test

SOURCES:
MEMORANDUM FROM VICE CHANCELLOR FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS TO CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICERS, 9/19/86
EFFECTIVE DATE: FALL QUARTER, 1986

Students are permitted to use dictionaries during the final fifteen minutes of the administration of the essay portion of the Regents’ Test. Students who wish to use dictionaries must bring their own dictionaries to the test administration. In order to ensure the smooth implementation of this provision, it is essential that the institution inform each student, in advance of the test administration, of the opportunity to bring a dictionary. Written notification should be provided to students registered to take the test, and may be provided as part of test registration materials if students receive such materials on your campus.

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2.8.12 Institutional Exemption

Institutional exemptions to the Regents Reading and Writing Skills requirement may be granted by the USG Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer under delegated authority of the Chancellor in consultation with the Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents. Exemption requests will be reviewed based on institutional evidence of robust and effective student learning assessment and support for under-achieving students.

Exemptions are granted based on institutions’ assessment of communications outcomes in Area A1 classes (ENGL 1101 and 1102). Therefore, if a student has passed ENGL 1101 and 1102 at an exempt institution (or has been granted transfer credit for those classes AFTER ENROLLING at an exempt institution), then the student is exempt from Regents’ Test requirements at that point, regardless of where he/she may transfer.

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