Today’s news:

Regents scores drop at Queens high schools

According to figures released by the state Department of Education last week, about 81 percent of Queens' high school students passed this year's English Regents exam, compared to 77 percent of high school students across the five boroughs. Last year about 86 percent of Queens' high school students passed the English Regents with a score of 55 or higher.

Last week the state Department of Education also released figures for the Mathematics Regents, revealing that about 65 percent of the borough's high school students passed the exam. About 60 percent of high school students citywide who took the test in June passed.

In Queens, slightly more than 13,000 students took the exams as part of the state Department of Education's push toward higher academic standards. Until last year students could graduate by passing an equivalency test - known as the Regents Competency Tests, or RCTs - even if they failed to meet the grade on the Regents exams.

While the state is raising standards, it has temporarily lowered the passing grade from 65 to 55. The passing score will return to 65 in 2004, when ninth graders entering high school this fall will be seniors and will also be required to take both the English and Math exams.

"The good news here is that approximately the same percentage of students who in the past had passed the RCT exams are now passing the much more difficult English Regents," city Schools Chancellor Harold Levy said in a statement. "The bad news is that the passing grade will be even higher on that exam for children who entered the ninth grade this fall."

The city Board of Education also released figures that include the more than 12,300 students who dropped out of high school citywide.

When the city's 12,393 dropouts are added back into the group of students eligible to take the tests, scores decreased dramatically: after factoring in dropouts, about 61 percent of students passed the English Regents as compared to 77 percent without those students. Some 48 percent of students passed the Math Regents when dropouts are included in the testing group as opposed to 60 percent without.

Among Queens' high schools, Townsend Harris High School in Flushing topped the lists for both the English and Math Regents, passing all of its 253 students who took the tests in June 2000.

The Academy of American Studies in Long Island City - which tested a much smaller group of students than Townsend Harris - was the only other Queens high school to come close to score high on both exams. Of the 85 students who took the tests there, 83 of them - or 98 percent - passed the English Regents and all of them passed the Math exam.

In some schools, performance was high on one of the exams but not both. Thomas Edison High School in Jamaica tested 433 students in June 2000, 99 percent of whom passed the English Regents. On the Math test, only 71 percent passed.

Bayside High School and Benjamin Cardozo High School, both in Bayside, also showed stronger English results than math results. Among the 540 students who took the tests at Bayside, 93 percent passed the English exam and 87 percent passed the Math Regents. At Cardozo, which tested 1,051 students, nearly 97 percent passed the English test and nearly 90 passed the Math exam.

Of those Queens High Schools with the poorest student performance on the exams, Franklin K. Lane in Cypress Hills on the Queens-Brooklyn border, tested 530 students, with 54 percent passing the English Regents and 23 percent passing the Math exam.

At Springfield Gardens High School, 253 students took the exams, with 60 percent passing the English test and 32 percent passing the Math exam.

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