New York State Law to Benefit College-bound Jewish Students

A bill Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law last Friday, permitting disclosure of the contents of some college entrance achievement tests every eight years, rather than the current three years, will benefit New York State college bound Jewish high school seniors, particularly of yeshiva high schools, a Jewish civil rights agency official reported today. Disclosure of the contents of an examination means that examination cannot be re-used.

The College Entrance Examinations Board (CEEB), which prepares and administers college and professional school entrance-related examinations, had contended that the three-year disclosure requirement, scheduled to become effective this year, would make it impossible for the CEEB to continue to offer so-called low volume achievement examinations in the state, including its Hebrew Achievement Test, said Dennis Rapps, executive director of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA).

Last March, the CEEB announced it would cancel nine of 14 achievement tests in New York state on grounds it could not prepare enough examinations to comply with the three-year disclosure requirement.

Rapps said the CEEB’s position was that the cost of preparing new tests every three years for low volume tests would have resulted in prohibitively high fees to students seeking to take those tests.

Rapps said high school seniors applying to colleges and universities with high admission standards generally try to take CEEB achievement tests in areas in which they are proficient, in addition to the standard aptitude examinations. The nine low-volume achievement tests the CEEB said in March it would discontinue included Hebrew, an area in which many Jewish high school seniors, particularly those of yeshiva high schools, are highly proficient. Other achievement tests, the CEEB said it would drop were European history, French, German, Latin, literature, mathematics level 1, physics and Spanish.

Rapps reported that, in conjunction with the Yeshiva High School Principals’ Council, an affiliate of the Board of Jewish Education of New York, COLPA had worked in support of the measure Cuomo has signed.

The Principals’ Council lauded the “invaluable aid” provided by State Sen. Kenneth Lavalle (R. Suffolk), chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and Assemblyman Mark Segal (D. Man.), chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, in helping to get passage of the measure.

PLANNED TO CONTINUE FIVE TESTS

Rapps said the five tests which the CEEB had planned to continue, as against the nine it had planned to drop, were: English Composition, mathematics, Level 1, biology, chemistry, and American History and Social Studies. The number of students taking the “high volume” achievement tests for the 1981-82 school year in New York state ranged from 27,858 in English Composition to 5,224 in American History and Social Studies.

In contrast, the number of high school students who took the low volume tests ranged from 3,541 in Spanish to 185 in Latin. The number of students who took the Hebrew Achievement test was 214.

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