“Regents exams measure student achievement in high school-level courses. In order to graduate from high school, students must pass five Regents exams in the following subject areas: English Language Arts, a math, a science, social studies, and any additional Regents exam or another option approved by the State. Student may also earn an Advanced Regents diploma if they pass certain additional Regents exams in math and science, as well as any NYC Language Other Than English exam.” - from the DoE website
They are not like AP’s or IB courses (college level high school classes).
You take a Regents test, generally in high school, when you complete the course - which may be in Jan or June. “Regents Week” is a thing in high school. It is the week twice a year when the tests are given and if your student doesn’t have a Regent or two to take during that period, they will have those days off. Most students will graduate with a Regents or an Advanced Regents Diploma. It just happens pretty naturally and many kids barely register them. My own kids came to me panicked in Junior year: “We need 5 Regents to graduate!” I said, “You currently have 8 Regents. Calm down.”
Back in my parents’ day (big bands and bobby socks), the Regents were a BIG deal. Not everyone would take them and students were trembling in their boots to pass. These days for college bound kids, not so much. You need a 65 to pass and if you have a pretty solid student, their course work should prepare them to do just fine.
The Regents are not used for college placement. If you get an Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors (an average of 90 or more in your many academic Regents courses) you may get a couple of bucks from a SUNY or CUNY (money is money but it is not much). Private colleges or public colleges or universities elsewhere don’t know or care about them.
Many middle schools offer the first two Regents at 8th grade; Algebra 1, and/or Living Enviroment (bio). Our science and math middle school didn’t offer them. It meant that my mathy kids had to ‘double up’ in math to get to Calculus at Senior year. One of them did a double math period freshman year at Stuy (not having a math Regent DID NOT keep them from testing into Specialized HS) and the other one did an independent study in Junior year to advance to Calculus in Senior year. It takes some intention and advocacy, but it is doable. We found that not having Living Environment had no impact on their advanced science studies. They got to Physics and AP Bio just fine without it.
Regents Tests are not the PS/MS ELA and Math tests, that can have little impact on next steps. I would dig deeply into the repercussions of Opting Out of the Regents because of their status tied to graduation. There are Consortium High Schools that have gotten special permission to use a “performance assessment” rather than the Regents for graduation. Schools like Beacon, Brooklyn Collaborative, ICE and Essex St. Academy are Consortium Schools.