Commission delivers Graduation Measures recommendations 

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Graduation requirements in New York are likely to change in the coming months to become more inclusive and learning-centered with a focus on every student.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures presented its recommendations to the Board of Regents on Nov. 13. The Graduation Measures Initiative includes the community at large–parents, educators, administrators, school support staff, higher education and business–together with student voices. 

“Every student has unique talents, skills, and interests, and a one-size-fits-all approach fails to recognize and nurture these differences,” says Betty Rosa, the state’s education commissioner. “We must remove barriers and facilitate equitable access to education by addressing the individual needs of students, increasing opportunities for work-based learning or college readiness programs, and providing students with practical skills and experiences that enhance their employability and post-secondary education opportunities.”

The Graduation Measures Initiative examined what it means to obtain a diploma in New York and what that diploma should signify to ensure educational excellence and equity for all students in the state, officials say. The initiative’s goals: create equity in public education and ensure that students gain the skills to succeed.

The commission’s recommendations are to:

■ Replace the three diploma types with one diploma, with the option to add seals and endorsements. 

■ 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. 

■ Ensure access to career and technical education, including internships and work-based learning opportunities for all students across New York State. 

■ 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). 

■ Reduce and/or modify diploma assessment requirements to allow more assessment options. 

■ Create state-developed rubric(s) for any performance-based assessments allowed as an option to satisfy the diploma assessment requirements. 

■ 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). 

■ 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). 

■ Pursue regulatory changes to allow the discretion to confer high school degrees posthumously. 

■ Require all New York teacher preparation programs to provide instruction in culturally responsive-sustaining education practices and pedagogy. 

■ Require that professional development plans include culturally responsive-sustaining education practices and pedagogy. 

■ Review and revise the state’s learning standards. 

The state Department of Education is expected to develop proposed guidance, programmatic, and regulatory changes to address the goals and priorities of the Graduation Measures Initiative. 

“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,” says Lester Young Jr., chancellor of the Board of Regents. “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.”

Young expects the commission’s work to help state educators plan and implement policy and practice solutions that respond to increasing diversity, guarantee inclusive learning environments, and safeguard equity and excellence.

“The commission’s recommendations culminate from a robust stakeholder input process and extensive review of relevant research,” Rosa says. “The recommendations will help us create a more inclusive learning environment while maintaining rigor and enhancing critical thinking skills, putting all students on a trajectory for success ensuring they’re prepared for college, career, and civic readiness in the 21st century and beyond.”

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

4 thoughts on “Commission delivers Graduation Measures recommendations 

  1. FUN and MOTIVATION might be enhanced through PLAY (see Strong Museum of Play)

    I recently went to the Strong Museum of Play and it occurred to me that it might help students and adults to become more motivated in school and in life.
    Strong has just expanded and I wonder if RCSD and other area schools are pushing visits to help students, teachers and parents become more motivated.
    I remember having fun in kindergarten, but first grade became serious business, and I think I lost a lot of motivation. Perhaps, if students were encouraged to see learning as a game from K to 12, and beyond, they might be motivated to keep trying and trying, for success.

    I, myself, am pushing the POWER of PLAY, right now, as a sort of game. So far, I am not getting a positive response from schools. So, far I am not getting a positive response from . But, but, as long as I see my push as a game, I am motivated to keep trying, and trying, and trying…

    I urge RochesterBeacon to do a full story on the Power of Play. I urge Rochester schools to explore the power of play, at the Strong Museum of Play, right now… THANKS

  2. I’m afraid Mr. Mars, based on his recent comments about the NYS Blue Ribbon Committee’s recommendations to the Board of Regents, is not taking into consideration the volumes of research that clearly demonstrate that the NYS “factory model” of education continues to emphasize skills, curriculum, school organization, funding, pedagogy and assessment that is not meeting the needs of ALL students and society; especially the growing number of :
    – Students of color; especially those living in poverty and experiencing trauma,
    – ELL and immigrant students,
    – Students with Special Needs, and
    – Those students with learning styles, interests and needs that demand something other than
    our current model, which primarily emphasizes college preparation, and downplays the
    societal needs and student interest for vocational careers.
    Additionally, the negative impact of using high-stakes standardized testing to promote and assess students, has become a factor that educators and policy-makers have become increasingly aware of, and begs for a change that treats students fairer and more equitably. (Read “The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better,” by Daniel Koretz.)
    This argument is not to miss the lack of education focus on “good citizenship,” democratic values, social justice, social media literacy and the values of empathy and compassionate action; all of which need serious public education emphasis.
    The purpose of the Blue Ribbon Committee was to analyze our current NYS public education system through these lenses, review the relevant research, and make recommendations to make education more meaningful, attractive and beneficial for ALL students and society; NOT ignore the data, research and the needs of students and society.

  3. This is (to use a phrase from the late NY Senator Patrick Moynihan) “defining deviancy down”, or to quote former President GW Bush “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. Despite all of NYS problems, the NYS Regents HS program has been well thought of across the country, and contributes to the SUNY System being thought of similarly, (even in the Tech Industry) . Its disturbing that you really have to read between the lines here to conclude that this effort is focused on de-emphasizing (at best) or eliminating the Regents diploma as a requirement all together. (I attached a link to the D&C article that which was more candid below). I was fortunate to graduate with a Regents diploma, I went college out of state to find I was well ahead in Math than my fellow students that didn’t go thru NYS Regents level program. This recommendation has all the woke buzz words, like “culturally responsive”, the D&C article even states that dead folks will be awarded degrees? The Feds are dumping a lot of taxpayer dollars into NY in a attempt to make it a tech hub (if you believe them, thus far it looks more like a Unionization effort), education standards need to be enhanced, not dumbed down, these kids have peers in India and China that are pursuing scholastics bigger, better and faster than they are. (Subjectivity isn’t going to cut it in the real world) If the country is going to have a shot at competing on a global level, proposals like this will need a lot of adjustment.

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