Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | October 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010 - 5:40am

SED Letterhead                                                                                   




Regents Subcommittee on State Aid


John B. King, Jr.


Options for Funding the Regents Examination System


October 7, 2010






Issue for Discussion

How do we ensure the continued fiscal viability of the Regents Examination Program?

Reason(s) for Consideration

Required by State Regulation

Proposed Handling

This question will come before the Subcommittee on State Aid at its October 2010 meeting.

Background Information

In recent months, concerns have arisen regarding the fiscal sustainability of the Regents Examination program.  Recent reductions in State General Fund and the past reliance on federal carryover funds now no longer available, have created a structural imbalance between our available resources and the costs of administering the Regents examinations program. As shown below, costs of the Regents program have also risen over time as a result of inflation, the addition of exams, increased costs of vendor contracts and the need for more security.




School Year



$12.8 million


$16.0 million


$17.6 million


$18.1 million


$15 million

($13.4 million after cost reductions, plus ELA 9 & 10)

It should be noted that the cost for 2010-11 was a figure budgeted prior to the cost reduction strategies approved by the Board in June 2010.  The 2011-12 figure is the current cost estimate after reductions, but also includes the estimated costs of additional exams in English Language Arts for grades 9 and 10.

2009-10 Action Steps

The Department has taken aggressive steps to begin to address the structural imbalance beginning with the Board’s approval at the June 2010 meeting to implement the cost reduction strategies in Chart A and B (below). 

Chart A


Number of Students Tested

Estimated Savings

Review all test development processes to reduce reliance on Education Specialists


$1.25 million

Discontinue paper-based scoring materials for Regents exams and post all scoring training materials and answer keys to website



$.60 million

Eliminate Component Retesting in Math & ELA


$1.6 million

Eliminate Grades 5 and 8 Social Studies Exams


$.80 million

Total Estimated Savings for Chart A Strategies


$4.25 million






Chart B


Number of Students Tested

Estimated Savings

Eliminate Grade 8 Second Language Proficiency exams


$2.0 million

Eliminate August Administration of Algebra 2/Trigonometry and Chemistry exams


$.8 million

Eliminate HS Foreign Language Regents exams except for Spanish, French, and Italian


$.85 million

Immediately discontinue translating exams into Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean, & Russian- Continue Spanish and perform the work with Department staff.




$.75 million

Eliminate January Administration of Regents Exams


$1.4 million

Total Estimated Savings for Chart B Strategies


$5.80 million

The 2010-11 State Budget provided for a one-time revenue transfer of $2.5 million from a Special Revenue account into a newly created Education Assessment account. These revenues were used to restore the proposed cuts of the January administration of Regents exams, exam translations, and the high school foreign language exam in Italian. The other actions noted above have been implemented for the 2010-11 testing cycle and will result in combined savings of approximately $7.35 million ($2.65 million in non-Regents exam costs and $4.70 million in Regents exams costs) for the current State Fiscal Year.

Options for Action Steps for 2011-12

The structural imbalance between available resources and the costs of administering the Regents exam program is anticipated to be a recurring issue for the Department. We are exploring the widest possible range of options for addressing this structural imbalance and to inform the Board of Regents’ decision-making.

  • The Department has developed a Budget request of $15.0 million for the Board’s consideration for advancement in the 2011-12 State Fiscal Year budget making deliberations. These additional funds would be used to continue administrations of all exams in Chart C below and allow the Department to restore the following items from Charts A and B above:


  • Restore Grades 5 & 8 Social Studies exams
  • Continue translations of exams into Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Korean and Russian
  • Continue January administration of Regents Exams

2)   In the event that the 2011-12 enacted State Budget does not include the additional State funding requested, one option would be to eliminate all remaining Regents examinations (Chart C below) that are not required for Federal accountability.  The list below includes all Regents exams not eliminated in the 2010-11 school year. In addition, we would not proceed further with the planned future administration of Regents exams in ELA 9 and ELA 10.



Chart C


Number of Students

Tested in 08-09

Regents Italian


Regents French


Regents Spanish


Regents US History & Government


Regents Global History and Geography


Regents Physical Setting/Physics


Regents Physical  Setting/Chemistry


Regents Physical Setting/Earth Science


Regents Geometry


  • Another strategy would be to transfer the cost of the Regents exams to the districts.  Education Law §209 provides general authority for the Regents to set a fee for Regents exams and there does not appear to be any statutory or regulatory prohibition on the State’s ability to charge districts, charter schools, and nonpublic school for such examinations. One option would be for the Department to collect fees from the districts through a revenue account - either by establishing a new account for this purpose or by utilizing the newly established “Education Assessment Account.”  We believe a better option would be a “chargeback” to districts by applying an offset or intercept to their State aid payments. This would, in effect, create a billing system to charge each district a proportionate amount to fully cover the cost of Regents exam development and administration.


The chargeback could be calculated in a number of different manners. Options include the following:

  • Develop the chargeback annually based on the relative number of each Regents exam administered to students by each district in the previous year. This “test-taker” method would divide each Regents exam cost by the number of exam administrations statewide and multiply the unit cost by the number of each test administered in each district.


  • Develop the chargeback based on the estimated average cost per all Regents exams. This “average” method would divide the actual total cost for all exams by the total test administrations to calculate an average which would be multiplied times the number of test administrations in each district.
  • Develop the chargeback based on a “census” method. This method would calculate a per student amount by dividing the total cost of all Regents exams by the total number of students statewide. This would result in the lowest cost/student amount and be easier to administer. Using the 2008-09 cost of all Regents exams of approximately $16.0 million and the total census of all enrolled public school students of 2.7 million yields a cost of $5.93 per student.  Chart D below displays how much the census chargeback option might cost districts of various sizes, based on the number of students enrolled in representative districts in 2008-09.


Chart D

 Estimate of Costs to School Districts

Based on a “Census” cost of $5.93 per student

School District

Number of Students

Estimated Chargeback



















A small, rural district such as Willsboro would be charged an annual cost of under $2,000, whereas New York City’s cost would be approximately $6.0 million.

Need for Legislative Authority

In order to ensure that the chargebacks can be legally offset against State aid payments and the resulting revenues could be deposited in a revenue account and accessed to apply against the cost of Regents examinations, the Department would have to secure legislative authority and appropriation authority under the State Finance Law.