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Why were some local high school students left hanging after taking their Regents exams?

New York City high schools were in an uproar last week with the delay of certain Regents exam scores. As a result, there were certain students who didn't get to walk at their high school graduations. At Lower East Side Prep, where the Regents grading problems were rampant, one young man, said Social Studies teacher Adelaide Watson, sang the Star Spangled Banner at his graduation ceremony. But yet, he was not allowed to walk at graduation because he supposedly failed one of his Regents exams. A few days later, the young graduate was informed that he had passed.

So, why the confusion? As of last week, the Department of Education informed us that 97 percent of the scoring had been completed by the June 24th deadline. Erin Hughes, a representative from the Department of Education said that, "we have a small amount of cleanup to do - for example - appeals or documents that were damaged and need to be re-scanned." The DOE sent a letter to all high school principals updating them o the situation, and said that the missing scores will become available on a "rolling basis."

But for students of Lower East Side Prep, that answer was too little, too late. They particularly had problems with the English Language Arts (ELA) Regents, where the school dropped from 80 percent passing grades, to 40 percent passing. In addition, said Principal Martha Polin, several students could not walk at graduation because of missing or incorrect test scores.

Watson, the teacher, said that this might have something to do with the fact that McGraw Hill, who administered the grading under a $3.5 million contract, had a new system this year where instead of grading each test booklet by hand, the booklets were scanned, and teachers had to use a computer system to grade.

"These tests were scanned incorrectly," said Watson. "Then you have to follow these computer commands, and sometimes the essay appears not to be there. Is it because the kid chose not to write it? Or did he put it in a different part of the book and we can't manually check?"

Watson also said that sometimes the scanned tests would come up with error messages, or calculate grades incorrectly.

For Lower East Side Prep, the test score results still hang in the balance, as well as their graduation rate.

The Department of Education refused to comment on the contract with McGraw Hill or the reasoning behind the testing flub. McGraw Hill did not respond in time for this article.

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