Dilemma--the Math A Regents is a joke. The kids know it is a joke. Everyone in my school passes it. So, how do you make kids take math a seriously? You start a rumor.
One year, months before the regents, I told my classes that I read an article in the NY Times that the upcoming regents was going to be the hardest regents in years. The powers that be in Albany had been getting a lot of flack about the exam and how easy it was to pass, so this exam was going to be exceptionally difficult to show everyone how serious the Board of Regents was about keeping up standards. Every day, I added fuel to the fire, scaring them a little more. I did not realize how effective my little talk was until other teachers starting coming up to me, asking me about the article I read.
Well, my scare tactics worked. That year I had 100% passing in two classes. Everyone got over 75 and the majority of the kids went on to complete Math B and get regents diplomas. At first they were angry at me because the test was really an easy one and I scared them for nothing. Later, they were happy because they actually learned some math that term.