Transitions

Soon, my family will be heading to drop my son off at college. It is bittersweet for so many parents, but it is especially so because my son had a lot to deal with as a child. I am so grateful that my son came though school when he did, when the teachers were allowed to have the child determine educational needs, and not have to force the child to meet what has been determined by an out of control bureaucracy.
Except for a few specific times, my son always enjoyed going to school. I am in several special needs groups and my news feed this morning is post after post of heartbroken parents whose child is dreading going to school. Not the usual, not just not wanting the summer to end, not grumbling because they cannot sleep late any more. Real dread, that cause real stress and real meltdowns and lead to real anxiety….
“That time of the year is upon us once again. The time when my feed is full of new class assignments, parents connecting with other parents about placement and schedules. Happy pictures of kids’ new wardrobes and school supplies. It’s a sad time for us. I know that in two short weeks, My child will go from being the light-hearted, funny, creative old-soul she is during the summer, to her “school self.” It’s not a fun thing to watch happen to your child. So, please share, connect, get excited. But, don’t forget to feel lucky. Feel blessed that your child likes (or at least tolerates) school and that they look forward to reconnecting with friends. Any parent of a child who dreads school can tell you that it’s hard to send their baby back after a fantastic summer. I know I’m not alone. I know many of my friends have children who feel the same way. Maybe this post is to let you know you’re not alone.”
Years ago, in a self contained class, a student said “I love this class because it gives me the chance to feel smart.” She did not make it though the Regents, did not graduate, and is hoping to now pass the TASC (GED) which has an 80% failure rate. Another child who pulled out eyebrows 6 years ago during state testing (before it got as bad as it is now) refuses to go to school at all. These stories are not one-off stories, but the true experience of too many families.
We need an education system that will flex to the needs of the child. Teachers know so much more today about learning differences and learning disabilities, but they are not able to use this knowledge to benefit the child because education has become standards and modules driven with too much emphasis on testing. Refuse the tests and fight for the restoration of local control.

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NYSED Mixed Messages on the CDOS

“Students with special needs are also eligible for a Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential, which recognizes his or her preparation and skills for post-school employment.

Students exiting high school with the CDOS credential would be considered “high school completers,” and would not be included in graduation or drop-out counts, said Jonathan Burman, an Education Department spokesman. This option began with the 2013-14 school year.”

The above is a direct quote from NYSED posted in this article in lohud.com this past May.

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2015/05/10/phasing-diploma-option/27086389/

This is a pretty clear cut example of “spin” out of NYSED because we no longer get straight answers from that department.

If you are not a high school graduate, and you are no longer in high school, and do not have a diploma, then what are you? How do you answer that question on an on-line job application?

wal-mart job app

And more spin from NYSED:

“Students who are unable to earn a regular diploma because of their disability may graduate with the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential as the student’s only exiting credential”

This is a bold face lie. The students who only earn a CDOS are not “graduates” according to NYSED’s own regulations. NYSED states that they are eligible to stay in school until 21 in order to pass the Regents and earn a diploma.

“If the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential is the student’s only exiting credential and he/she is less than 21 years of age, the parent must be provided prior written notice indicating that the student continues to be eligible for a free appropriate public education until the end of the school year in which he/she turns age 21″.

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/CDOScredential-memo-613.htm

So, graduate, not graduate, sounds like “not graduate” to me.  From my close reading of the CDOS memo from NYSED, I think they are trying to confuse parents and students.

Here is something that I noticed yesterday.  Below are screen shots of graduation statistics that I pulled from NYSEDs own report from January.  I pulled the one from West Hempstead in February, I pulled Smithtown this week.  Note that CDOS was not listed on West Hempstead, but is now listed on Smithtown.  So, CDOS has been added, in conjunction with the IEP diploma, which is defunct as of the cohort of 2011.  In the same Regents meeting in January, where this report was discussed, Meryll Tisch dismissed parents concerns about graduation requirements for SPED students by saying that “the IEP diploma wasn’t anything anyway”.  First, I am so sorry I never thought to get a screen shot of that statement because the meetings are close captioned. Second, it shows Tisch’s total lack of understanding for what the Board of Regents has done under her Chancellorship.

west hempsteadsmithtown

Finally, posted on August 26, 2014 on the link listed below:

 http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/timely.htm

“A model certificate for award of the New York State (NYS) Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential is now available. Each school district is responsible for developing a certificate at the local level that is similar in form to the district diploma. The certificate must not use the term “diploma” and it must indicate that the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential is endorsed by the NYS Board of Regents as a certificate of readiness for entry level employment.”

The certificate must not use the term “diploma”, so clearly not “graduation”.

I was in a conversation with a parent who was sure that the child was all set to graduate because the child passed one Regents exam and there was not a requirement to pass additional Regents exams.   That is not the criteria for a diploma, but it does meet the criteria for a student to be eligible to earn a CDOS.  This parent, now confused and angry, has to wait until the end of August to get clarification from the school district.

There are parents and students who do opt to take the CDOS option over struggling through 5 Regents, and there is validity to that.  I hear story after story of SPED students struggling to pass 5 Regents, even with the 55 safety net, taking Regents as many as five times before calling it quits, thinking maybe they can pass the GED (the new version, the TASC as an 80% fail rate). But, the CDOS, if done correctly, could be a valid path to a valid technical or vocational diploma.

Action items:   Call your legislators, call your Regent.  Talk to other parents, organize a meeting in your school district, or organize a meeting with a neighboring school district.  Let NYSED know that the CDOS, as it stands now, is an unfair and confusing credential.