According to the National Council for Social Studies, the main purpose of social studies education is to provide students with the “content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy.” In general, it is the goal of public education to prepare students to live in our democratic […]
According to the National Council for Social Studies, the main purpose of social studies education is to provide students with the “content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy.” In general, it is the goal of public education to prepare students to live in our democratic society, but it is specifically the province of social studies education to provide students with the skills and knowledge to participate fully in all levels of society, from local to global. Given the importance of social studies, it seems surprising that the New York State Board of Regents is thinking about making the Global History and Geography Regents exam optional. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, NYS Education Commissioner John King said, “There’s certainly going to be a lot of jobs in the future in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and this new pathway will encourage districts and schools to create additional opportunities for their students to pursue those areas.” While this might be true, King and the Board of Regents fail to realize the importance of learning and understanding global events in our increasingly interconnected world.
Currently, New York State requires students to pass two social studies Regents exams, one on Global History and Geography and another on United States History and Government. Despite their flaws, namely the reductionist nature of requiring students to demonstrate their knowledge of complex national and international issues through series of multiple choice questions and short essays, these social studies exams require schools to focus on citizenship education, without which students would be ill-prepared to participate fully and competently in a democratic society.
The Global History and Geography Regents exam, a three-hour test, includes fifty multiple-choice questions and two essays, one thematic essay question and document-based essay question (DBQ). This exam, usually taken in 10th grade, assesses students on two years of global history content and includes the following topics: The Ancient World (Ancient Civilizations of Asia, Africa and Europe); Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter (from the Gupta Empire to the Crusades); Global Interaction (the interaction of the Japanese, Mongol and African Civilizations, and the Renaissance); The First Global Age (the Ming, Ottoman, Spanish, Portuguese and Mesoamerican empires); Age of Revolution (the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, political revolution, nationalism, industrialism and imperialism); Crisis and Achievement (World War I, the Russian Revolution, rise of dictatorships in Europe, the rise of nationalism in Asia and the Middle East, and how World War II affected the world); 20th Century Since 1945; and Global Connections and Interactions (overpopulation, urbanization, globalization, ethnic rivalry and other economic and political issues).
The United States History and Government Regents exam is the same length and format as the Global Regents exam, but it is typically taken at the end of 11th grade. The U.S. history course and exam include the following content: Colonial America, Constitutional Foundations, the Bill of Rights, basic democratic structure and constitutional principles, federalism, sectionalism, slavery, the Age of Jackson, antebellum reform movements (e.g., Abolitionism), the Civil War, Reconstruction, Industrialization, the New South, the Rise of Industry, Business and Labor, urbanization, Social Darwinism, arts and literature, the changing patterns of immigration, the Last Frontier, Agrarian Protest, the Progressive Movement, Women’s Suffrage, imperialism, World War I, the 1920s and return to “normalcy,” the Great Depression and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, postwar America, Civil Rights, Kennedy’s New Frontier, Johnson’s Great Society, the Vietnam War, Nixon, Reagan and the Conservative Ascendancy, and a study of 21st Century domestic issues, foreign policy, economic and political issues.
As social studies teachers, we understand the importance of this subject and hope that the NYS Board of Regents will decide to keep both exams mandatory for graduation to ensure that students continue to learn the skills and content associated with citizenship education. Additionally, regardless of the Board’s decision, we will continue to offer review classes for both social studies Regents exams.
Why do we need math? When I was in high school, I remember asking myself and my teachers that question. Today, some people argue that computer technology has rendered math classes obsolete. Actually, just the opposite has happened. According to Steven D. Levitt, the co-author of Freakonomics, “In the past, one could get by on […]
Why do we need math? When I was in high school, I remember asking myself and my teachers that question. Today, some people argue that computer technology has rendered math classes obsolete. Actually, just the opposite has happened. According to Steven D. Levitt, the co-author of Freakonomics, “In the past, one could get by on intuition and experience. Times have changed. Today, the name of the game is data.” In other words, today’s digital world requires us to sift through piles of information everyday, and mathematical problem-solving skills can help us make sense of everything. The website WeUseMath.org states, “More and more, math is an essential tool to survive in today’s world. Math is a powerful tool for understanding the world, and almost everyone—from advertising agencies to doctors, from retailers to builders—who doesn’t want to be left behind is using math to do their job better and to get ahead in the world.”
In New York State, students must earn at least three credits and pass at least one Regents Exam in mathematics to receive a Regents diploma. To graduate with honors, or advanced designation, students must pass all three math Regents Exams. Below is a description of the NYS Regents Examinations in math. Each test is three hours long and includes a combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions.
The Integrated Algebra Regents exam consists of four parts: one multiple-choice section and three open-ended sections, each with three questions for which you must show your work. Graphing calculators are required for the Integrated Algebra examination, and the test booklet includes a reference sheet containing formulas. The Integrated Algebra curriculum covers most of the topics previously included in Math A, except for some aspects of geometry, locus, geometric constructions, and combinations. In addition to topics on number theory, operations, variables and expressions, equations and inequalities, trigonometric functions, and coordinate geometry, Integrated Algebra also includes an introduction to sets, functions, lines of best fit, and exponential growth and decay.
The Geometry Regents exam consists of four parts: one multiple-choice section and three open-ended sections, for which you must show your work. Graphing calculators are required for the Geometry examination, and the test booklet includes a reference sheet containing formulas. The Geometry curriculum includes most of the topics previously included in the geometry units for Math A and Math B. In addition to covering geometric relationships, constructions, locus, informal and formal proofs, transformational geometry, and coordinate geometry, it also includes some additional geometry topics such as midpoint and concurrency theorems, similarity theorems, logical connectives, and aspects of solid geometry including parallel and perpendicular planes.
The Algebra 2/Trigonometry Regents exam consists of four parts: one multiple-choice section and three open-ended sections, for which you must show your work. Graphing calculators are required for the Algebra 2/Trig examination, and the test booklet includes a reference sheet containing formulas. The Algebra 2/ Trigonometry curriculum in covers the following topics: algebraic operations with fractions and radicals; operations with real and complex numbers; factoring; solving quadratic equations; solving systems of equations; transformations and functions; linear, quadratic, logarithmic, exponential, and trigonometric functions and their graphs; trigonometric equations and laws; probability; statistics (including normal curve; fitting a line or curve to data using least squares regression); scatter plots; correlation coefficient; series and sequences.