Should Regents exams be overhauled? It’s a question that the state Board of Regents plans to study this fall as it considers revisiting New York’s graduation policies. Critics of the exams – and of standardized testing – say there are different and equally rigorous methods to measure student proficiency. They also say the tests place undue burden on some students, particularly minority students. Supporters of the Regents exams say the tests have evolved in recent years and provide a needed final assessment of students preparing to graduate.

Our guests debate the value of these exit exams:

  • Sheila Byrne, Advanced Placement English teacher at Webster Thomas High School
  • Evvy Fanning, English teacher at a local suburban public school
  • Katie Baird, recent graduate of Webster Thomas High School
  • Calvin Eaton, founder and executive director of 540WMain Communiversity, and substitute teacher

With the start of the school year, we have a conversation standardized testing. Daniel Koretz is the author of "The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better." He joins us to discuss why he thinks standardized testing has negative impacts on student learning.

Our guests:

  • Daniel Koretz, professor of education at Harvard University who teaches educational measurement, and author of "The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better"
  • Dan Drmacich, coordinator for the Rochester Coalition for Public Education, and retired principal 
  • Eileen Graham, homeschooling parent  
  • Henry Padron, retired teacher in the Rochester City School District 

Leaders of the opt-out movement say they're still not pleased with New York state's Common Core-based tests and the pressures they place on students and teachers.

Last year, there were about 250,000 students across the state who opted out of the exams. As officials prepare to administer the English language arts exams this week to students in grades 3 through 8, some are expecting similar refusal numbers this year. 

It's a packed hour of Healthy Friday. First, we find out if we're being overtested and overtreated when we go to the doctor's office. Dr. Gil Welch of Dartmouth Medical School joins us to see if we really need the health tests we take.

Then, we get a preview of an upcoming men's health conference with Dr. Jean Joseph of the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

We wrap up the hour by understanding the psychology of implanted heart devices with Dr. Sam Sears from East Carolina University. 

State English and math tests in grades 3-8 are coming in the next several weeks, and school districts across the state have debated how to handle them. Some districts are supplying parents with a ready-made form to opt their children out of the tests, if they choose to do so. But Brighton superintendent Kevin McGowan sent parents a different kind of letter. His letter indicated that tests can be helpful ways to compare student progress, and the tests should be taken as an opportunity for students to "tackle tasks that may be challenging" and to "show others their personal best." 

After extensive testing at LeRoy High School, results show the mysterious illness plaguing more than a dozen students there was not caused by threats from air, water or soil on school grounds.

Students suddenly developed tic-like symptoms earlier this year, the illnesses prompted the environmental tests performed by Leader Professional Services.

President of the company, Michael Rumrill, explains the findings to WXXI's Alex Crichton. 

Imagine a school where every child gets instant, personalized writing help for a fraction of the cost of hiring a human teacher — and where a computer, not a person, grades a student's essays.

It's not so far-fetched. Some schools around the country are already using computer programs to help teach students to write.

There are two big arguments for automated essay scoring: lower expenses and better test grading. Using computers instead of humans would certainly be cheaper, but not everyone agrees on argument No. 2.