Let’s take a moment to look at this graphic EngageNY/NYSED is using to market Regents Pathways to us as a solution to the fact that some students will just never pass 5 regents exams in order to earn a high school diploma.
Red, Yellow, Green. Interesting choice of colors. It continues the standard line that if you are not college bound you are either stopped, or you have to yield.
Up until graduation year 2015, students with IEPs had to attempt to take the five required Regents, (Math, Science, ELA US History and Global History & Geography). If a student with an IEP fails the Regents, they could qualify to take an RCT (Regents Competency Test), the material is similar, but uses straight forward wording. The ELA RCT includes practical skills like writing a business letter. The students were taught the same material, but the RCTs show that NYSED understands that some students will just never test well. Many years ago, in the early 80s and 90s, students could graduate and earn a diploma with out passing Regents exams or RCTs. Regents exams were for the elite college bound students, and other students received a local diploma.
Under the college bound mania of No Child Left Behind, NYSED and the Board of Regents have made it far more difficult to graduate high school by insisting on a 5 regents requirement. Global History and Geography is the most frequently failed regents because it covers two years of course work and is a lot of memorization. Because of that, the Regents “Blue Ribbon Panel” (that is subject matter for another piece) came up with the idea of adding alternate tests for Global History. That way too many student would’t be considered “non-completers”.
This does nothing for Special Education students with learning disabilities that make it impossible for them to get through the five regents exams.
My 4000 student school district in the lower Hudson Valley has had one student drop out in two years. We have had 3 drop out this year already. They have tried and failed at the various regents, 3, 4 or 5 times and just cannot do it. They see no reason to stay in school anymore. Check your school district, I am sure there are similar stories all over the state; students who could have graduated with the RCT option last year are now high school dropouts with limited options.
The Board of Regents had a live stream of their meeting on Monday, October 20th, so I cleared my calendar to watch it. It was disturbing to see that these people who have agreed to provide every student of New York State the best educational opportunity still don’t understand that it is supposed to be the best educational opportunity for each individual student.
Take a moment and think about truck drivers; how many trucks you see on the roads in a day? Imagine if we no longer provided students who were happy and skilled at being truck drivers the opportunity to be truck drivers. You need a diploma. Food, clothing, hardware, building materials, fuel sources, every material good that makes it into our daily lives is moved on a truck. If we had a shortage of truck drivers, this country would grind to a halt.
Back the to meeting, Regent Phillips talked about how impressed he was with the Regent Pathways and what opportunities it opened up for students.
We need to let Regent Phillips know that those opportunities were always there. The Board of Regents now wants to test these options. Diane Ravitch astutely pointed out that this does nothing for the students but generate another revenue stream for Pearson. http://dianeravitch.net/2014/09/19/new-york-takes-first-step-towards-assessing-the-arts/
Regent Tilles talked about having a 0 regent option and then a 5 regent option. I am not sure what his point was but I think he can see that there are still some problems with this.
Chancellor Tisch announced that there would be “parent universities” to educate us on how well the Regent Pathways will work. The first one will be in Staten Island on November 6th. Regent Cea will be the first regent on deck. Her contact information and biography is here. http://www.regents.nysed.gov/members/bios/cea.html
The final vote is in January. We need to let them know that this is not what our children need. There needs to be a non-high stakes testing option to earn a regular diploma.