New York State is considering changing graduation requirements for high school students. The Education Department has drafted some suggested changes.

According to the New York State Education Department, recommendations were made from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures to the Board of Regents.

It's an effort that brings together student voices along with a diverse range of stakeholders including parents, educators, administrators, school support staff, representatives of higher education, and the business community.

For far too many students, the schooling experience has slowly evolved into a system that all too often standardizes learning options and opportunities, and in many cases, treats differences as issues to be addressed rather than seeing them as learning opportunities and assets. Also, research and experience reveal that policies and practices alone do not determine student educational outcomes. We now know, for example, that there is significant evidence that classroom techniques designed to get students to participate in the learning process produce better educational outcomes at virtually all levels. The critical work of this Commission will help all New York State (NYS) educators plan and implement successful policy and practice solutions designed to respond to ever-increasing diversity, guarantee inclusive learning environments, and safeguard equity and excellence for all NYS students... - Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr

The news release notes that the Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures identified high-level skills, knowledge areas, and competencies that holistically reflect successful outcomes of P-12 education.

There are 12 Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations:

  1. Replace the three diploma types with one diploma, with the option to add seals and endorsements.
  2. Include civic responsibility (ethics); cultural competence; financial literacy education; fine and performing arts; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) credit(s); and writing, including writing skills for real-world scenarios in diploma credit requirements.
  3. Ensure access to career and technical education (CTE), including internships and work-based learning opportunities for all students across New York State.
  4. Move to a model that organizes credit requirements— including content area credit requirements— into larger categories (e.g., mathematics and science courses could be included in the “STEM” category).
  5. Reduce and/or modify diploma assessment requirements to allow more assessment options.
  6. Create state-developed rubric(s) for any performance-based assessments allowed as an option to satisfy the diploma assessment requirements.
  7. Create more specific, tailored graduation requirements to address the unique circumstances of certain groups of students (e.g., non-compulsory age students, newcomer students, refugee students).
  8. Provide exemptions from diploma assessment requirements for students with significant cognitive disabilities and major life events and extenuating circumstances (e.g., medical conditions, death of a family member, trauma prior to sitting for a required exam).
  9. Pursue regulatory changes to allow the discretion to confer high school degrees posthumously.
  10. Require all New York State teacher preparation programs to provide instruction in culturally responsive-sustaining education (CRSE) practices and pedagogy.
  11. Require that professional development plans include culturally responsive-sustaining education practices and pedagogy.
  12. Review and revise the New York State learning standards.

The NYS Education Department notes that the work will begin to develop proposed guidance, programmatic, and regulatory changes to address the goals and priorities of the Regents related to this initiative.

For more information about the Graduation Measures initiative, visit the New York State Education Department’s Graduation Measures website.

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