ALBANY -- Students in seventh grade were supposed to need higher test scores in two years to pass New York's standardized exams.
The tougher requirements have been scrapped.
Education Commissioner Mary Ellen wrote to schools last week saying the state will not install the new "aspirational scores" that were to be required of students entering ninth grade in the 2018-19 school year.
She said the state is in the midst of overhauling its testing standards. So the students will still need to get a 65 grade or higher on the tests to get a Regents diploma, she said.
"There will be no change in the scale scores required for students to meet the graduation requirements for the class of 2022 on either the ELA (English Language Arts) or Mathematics Regents Examination," Elia wrote in a one-page memo.
The decision is the latest scale back of tougher testing standards for students and stronger evaluations for teachers under the Common Core initiative.
New York has delayed the implementation of both measures amid outcries from parents, teachers and students -- and about 20 percent of students opting out of the state's tests for grades 3 through 8.
In 2014, the Board of Regents decided that the class of 2022 — this year’s seventh graders — would be the first to face the Common Core requirements for graduation. Initially, it was supposed to be this year's graduating class.
Now Elia said the new exams are still be revised -- with new standards set to be unveiled this spring. They would take effect in 2019.
"Over the next several years, as these standards are implemented throughout the state, the assessments measuring student achievement in these areas will also be revised," Elia wrote.
The New York State United Teachers union supported Elia's decision.
"These 'aspirational targets' were pulled out of thin air to begin with. They were not grounded in research -- or reality," said NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn.
"At a time when the Regents and state Education Department are re-setting the standards, curriculum and state standardized testing system, it's smart of Commissioner Elia to hit the pause button on these flawed benchmarks as well."