Tales from the Fight for HS Diplomas in NYS

These are comments from parents who are struggling to help their children get through the new NYS diploma requirements.

B F K

Through the power of social media and several phone calls I was able to obtain a waiver for my daughter so that she may be able to take these tests over a couple of days. I appreciate the input and suggestions of many people that reached out.

Although this is a solution to the madness of inflicting 9-10 hours of testing on my child it really is only indicative of a bigger more troublesome problem.

Some of you suggested I reach out to my BOE or school district, this isn’t their problem and they cannot fix it. Some of you suggested an attorney or advocate, fortunately I am capable of advocating for my own child and a lawyer would have taken far longer than my daughter had to negotiate this particular hurdle. Others suggested I wait for her to take one of these exams or both, sadly she needs to take and pass two more next year I am worried she will forget the material and the opportunities to retake will begin to dwindle. With complete understanding and knowledge of how difficult this will be for her we opted for her to attempt them both, again in a few weeks.

I spent several hours on the phone yesterday and on my computer researching, reading and fighting.

NYSED has completely dropped the ball on educating children. ALL children are losing under this “education reform” but students with learning disabilities (SWD’s) and English language learners (ELL’s) are being left completely behind. If I were not the parent I am, my child would be sitting for 10 hours on August 12th. Many parents of SWD’s are too overwhelmed or lacking sufficient knowledge to challenge the state. Many parents believe that they cannot change educational policy (they are wrong). Furthermore, SWD’s that entered high school after September 2011 have lost the safety net of the RCT’s (Regents competency tests) and the local diploma. NYSED has substituted the 5 regents at 55 option for the local diploma. This method of assessing SWD’s is horrendous. Many children suffer with language based disabilities and these tests are egregiously difficult for those children. So the issue is not the timing of regents’ exams it is the way they are written. I will be posting a letter today that must go viral. Whether your child has a learning disability or not, speaks English or not, this issue is bigger than either of those pigeon holes. Failing to set up a system where these children can achieve a high school diploma has far reaching societal impact that I know NYSED and the Board of Regents have not even considered. What will happen to thousands, yes thousands of children that cannot get this new version of a “local diploma”?

Every time I speak to someone in authority I keep saying what is the plan for kids that cannot pass these rigorous “college or career ready” assessments? What is the plan, because as the saying goes, if you don’t plan to succeed then you plan to fail? So has NYSED determined that all these thousands of students should fail? I think they have, and I think they should be held accountable for that. And they should be ashamed.

S R M

I have been working on this as a teacher since the madness began. The entire movement had been focused on the 3-8 testing and not on HS graduation, which is the bigger problem. I have spoken to top SED officials and our legislators over the past 3 years. They truly have NO idea what I am talking about. There is a naive assumption that a better teacher and a better curriculum can erase a learning disability and raise an IQ. They don’t say this specifically, but that is what they think. They give me suggestions for teaching modifications or other adaptations. They do not say, this is wrong, we have pushed too hard, we have raised the bar too high, etc. They are in denial about the failure rate and I don’t think there is a plan to address it. This issue needs to be front and center this year …. we can’t let NYSED and the legislators be side tracked by the 3-8 testing and the opt out movement. THIS is the issue that needs their attention. They must solve this problem THIS year.

It is even worse for the kids who are not special ed – including those who were receiving services in elementary or middle school, but “graduated” from special ed programs when they got to high school.

K T

We are creating a generation of young adults with average IQ, but mild to moderate learning disabilities, who will not be able to function as workers in any other capacity than menial jobs. Most of these kids have strengths in areas that they are not disabled in. For example, many kids with reading disability are gifted in math. They should be engineers or computer scientists, but they can no longer graduate high school and go to college. I am a retired HS Special Educator. Parents need to sue. We are creating an underclass of kids who will have their whole futures wrecked.

And we are not talking about just thousands of students, but many, many more than that. Most folks have no idea that 12 percent of students have a disability, the vast majority of those kids have mild to moderate levels of disability and will not qualify for graduation without passing these tests.

The alternative assessment implies to less than 3 percent of kids with disabilities, which means that some ten percent of ALL NYS kids with disability are on their own. Either pass the regents or accept the “local diploma.”

M M T

I really think they don’t want these kids to get a diploma. They are pushing that CDOS hard. My son is going to be a senior Has an iep for math and also gets counseling, but is in National Honor Society. I received a letter yesterday from my district telling me how great it is and do I want him to work towards it. I am not usually a conspiracy theorist. But I do think they are trying to segregate kids. Either college /career, or not. And CDOS is a not. No career training. Not CTE track. They don’t care that some kids learn differently or have different needs on the one size fits all educational world of CC /HST

I taught a 12:1:4 class for many years. My kids were severely cognitively and/or physically delayed. They were part of the NYS Alternate Assessment . At the high school level, classes went to job sites. The whole class went together. One year we cleaned tables at a bowling alley; one year we put away the items people left ( restock ) at the counter at Pathmark; one year we worked at the cafeteria of the VA hospital cleaning tables and restocking condiment bins. ( see a pattern?). But the whole class went. Regardless of what limitations might preclude them from doing the job. Regardless of if they were interested. Now lets look at the CDOS program. The students I taught are not eligible to receive a CDOS yet they can participate in the job training hours/activities with those working for a CDOS, the kids working for CDOS in almost every case according to PPS person in my district cannot participate in the CAREER training in the CTE track because the academic program requirements are different. So looking at those facts — what JOB skills are kids working towards CDOS getting. ????

CDOS 1

C M Z

The Regents are promoting CTE yet the legislature did not fund it, so it is not fully available to students anyway, for either the CDOS track or the Regents Pathways.  Further, if you can qualify for a diploma, why would you want a CDOS that will mark you as a SPED student?

NYSED – Test and Punish – Punish and Test

August Regents schedule

Special education students who are struggling to graduate are punished by NYSED once again.  The Office of Assessment has scheduled mandatory to graduate Regents exams in competing time slots.  This has been going on for years, but now more parents are paying attention and we will be generating more complaints.

Students who still need to pass the Global History Regents and the Living Environment Regents are expected to start at 12:30 on August 12th,  and continue until 6:30.

SPED students with extended time are expected to work on these two tests for as long as nine hours in one day.  Yes, that is from 12:30 until 9:30 (or later if time for food and bathroom is allowed).

Has NYSED looked at the number of students who failed the CC Algebra Regents this year?

How many of those students took Algebra 1 for two years with extra support and still failed the CC Algebra Regents?

How many of those students  also failed the Living Environment and Global History Regents?

How many students with average IQs and a learning disability that that makes this type of testing too hard of a barrier to overcome?

Why are two mandatory to graduate Regents scheduled at the same time?

Why are three mandatory to graduate Regents scheduled on the same day?

If you are going to raise the bar so high for SPED students, or ELL students, or Gen Ed students who are not academically inclined, why make the conditions punitive?

Parents who call Steve Katz, NYSED Office of Assessment, have been treated rudely and transferred to Special Education. The problem is that the Office of Assessment controls the schedule.    Please join us in contacting Steve Katz and asking these questions.  518-474-5902 or steven.katz@nysed.gov

Post script:

I have received confirmation from teachers that they do have students who are looking at three make up Regents on the same day.  One teacher stated that an improvement is that students are no longer subjected to taking Regents and RCTs back to back. Student who qualified for RCTs were mandated to take the both exams until they passed one of them.  The RCTs  increased the chances of completing the requirements for graduation,  but human factors like fatigue, or how the essays were perceived, meant that it was not assured.

NYSED – Test and Punish, Punish and Test  the cycle continues.