Stupid Diploma

I gave my students (all English language learners) a practice Global Regents Exam this past Tuesday. Eleven (of 63) passed.  25 of them scored higher than a 45 (65 required to pass).

Yesterday, I passed out and went over their tests with them.

"If you score a three on both essays and get twelve of the document questions right, then you only have to answer 25 multiple-choice questions correctly." There are 50 multiple-choice questions.

"Mister, we need to learn more about China."

I agreed, but tried to explain, again, that the multiple-choice part doesn't really matter that much. The social studies Regents exams are much more a test of your reading and writing ability than they are your content knowledge.

"Listen, China's important. But if you want to pass, you need to get a 65, and learning everything you can about China is way less important than learning how to read and write about documents."

"Mister, I thought we had to get a 75 to pass."

I was hoping that wasn't going to come up. I stumbled.

"Well, you need a 75 on the English Regents if you want to get...."  I forgot what it was called, but one of my students filled in the blank.

"A smart diploma."

I had a hard time not finding that funny. I cocked my head to the side and tried to turn my smile into a look of uncertainty, but it was too late. I was completely misinterpreted.

One of my smart asses says, "Yea - if you get a 65, they give you a stupid diploma."

"We all getting a stupid diploma."

I couldn't take it. I just started laughing. The whole class starts laughing with me.

Alessandra, a very intelligent, very playful fourteen-year-old slams her fist on the desk with a smile. "¡I don't want a stupid diploma!"

And that was it. I about doubled over. I was crying from laughing so hard.

I tried to take a serious tone after we all stopped laughing. I told them all that getting a 65 doesn't make them stupid, that I really didn't care what they got as long as they passed. The only thing stupid about the Regents is the fact that they have to take it at all.

But I'm not looking forward to being asked by a parent why I told their kid they deserved a diploma de estúpidos.


  1. Wasn't the move to 75 discussed but not either proposed or implemented?

    Please check. Your students may not be correct.


  2. Good question. I think you're right. I haven't heard anything about it in the last few months.

    What was it supposed to be? 75 on English and 80 on math?

  3. haha ohhh dear. Hilarious and yet- rather sad, isn't it, that these (often) arbitrary scores can result in this self-labeling.

    Your students sound a lot like my close friends' (he's in East LA)


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