La Salle Institute Does Away With State Tests
TROY – In the midst of heated debate regarding education curriculum between parents, school districts and New York State, one area school has decided against participating in the Regents Examinations beginning this school year.
La Salle Institute, an independent, Catholic college preparatory school for young men in grades 6-12, recently announced the elimination of grade 9-12 Regent Exams. The move follows La Salle’s decision last year to eliminate the grade 3-8 exams.
“It was discussed over a number of years here,” said Principal of La Salle Institute, Brother Carl Malacalza, FSC. “The thing that stalled it a bit in the end, in terms of the decision, was the fact that Common Core corrected some of the issues that myself and the teachers felt were present with the Regents program.”
After analyzing parent focus groups, having numerous discussions with educators, and reviewing the options available with the Regents Exams and Common Core, Malacalza said school officials felt their students are receiving the Common Core education, but without the testing, which is the best option for the students.
“The Regents forced you into a curriculum that really touched on so many topics, that a teacher couldn’t really prepare students without a lot of drill and a lot of test preparation,” said Malacalza. “The kids weren’t really learning what they needed to learn.”
Regents Exams for all subjects – English, foreign language, mathematics, social studies and science, have been eliminated at La Salle Institute. Malacalza said the decision was motivated by the school’s mission to best prepare students for higher education. Scores from Regents Exams have not been included on La Salle’s student transcripts for the last five years, and Malacalza said most colleges and universities haven’t asked to see them. La Salle’s Class of 2014, comprised of 90 graduates, was accepted into 176 different colleges.
Doing away with the statewide standardized testing also allows for more instruction time, adding two additional weeks of instruction at the end of the year and during the course of year, when that time would otherwise be allocated for test preparation. Malacalza said more instruction time is the main advantage of this decision.
“We’ve made a commitment to Common Core without the testing,” said Malacalza. “We’re trying to get the students engaged in learning. We’re going to do it at a pace that we think is going to meet the needs of our kids. We’re going to grow, but we’re going to grow at a pace that creates excitement and learning for our kids.”
Public school districts such as Saratoga Springs, Schuylerville and Ballston Spa, don’t have the option to eliminate Regents Exams from their curriculums.
La Salle Institute is currently planning an open house for those interested in learning more about the school on Wednesday, Nov. 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.