Grant a Waiver for Students to Take Math RCT

Dear Board of Regents and New York State Education Department:
At the September Regents meeting, Regent Johnson raised the concern for students who were taught Algebra prior to the Common Core roll out, but who have still not passed the Algebra Regents. As of June 2015, only Common Core Regents in Algebra will be offered to students, even if they have not yet passed the exam under the previous standards. We understand that some students may be able to obtain a waiver if they have taken the prior Algebra Regents and scored between a 52 and 54 two times and meet all other criteria. Our concern is with those students who have not yet met this criteria, were not taught under the Common Core standards, and will not understand the new terminology on the new Algebra Common Core Regents. We respectfully request that an emergency regulation be passed to allow these students a waiver to attempt to pass the math testing requirement with the RCT exam while it is still offered in January and June of 2016.
Thank you

Open Letter: Make the CDOS a Valid Graduation Credential a Local Diploma

Parents across New York State have serious concerns with the CDOS (Career Development and Occupations Studies) credential as it has been implemented.

The CDOS, in its current state, violates FERPA and a student’s right to not disclose a disability.  Students who are eligible for a CDOS must be on the same Regents track as general education students but are recommended to complete the CDOS requirements.  This is discriminatory against special education students who are capable of participating in general education Regents classes.

Recommendation: Make the CDOS a valid local diploma option and open it up to all students.

Students who are in special education and working to complete the CDOS have a higher bar to reach than a general education student who has completed the required Regents exams by 11th grade.  A 12th grade student who has completed all five Regents exams successfully, can graduate from high school by completing requirements for ELA, SS and PE.  A special education student on the CDOS track has to complete the same requirements in ELA, SS and PE plus meet the extensive hours and task requirements for their CDOS plan.  This raises the bar higher for special education students on the CDOS track then it does for general education students who have earned a Regents diploma.   Special education students are working harder for an unrecognized credential that violates the student’s right to privacy about their disability.

Recommendation: Make the CDOS a valid local diploma option and open it up to all students.

There are stories from all school districts about students who have average IQ’s, but with learning disabilities, who have been placed in a test and punish cycle due to NYSEDs policies to have students take and pass five Regents exams in order to graduate.  These are students who may excel in other areas but because test taking is not a skill they can master, they are left with a CDOS, which Regent Tilles recently stated was “something less then” what it is supposed to be.  Further, schools such as Aviation and Automotive High Schoosl now have a struggling student population because  of the over-emphasis on high stakes testing rather than the teaching and assessment of real job skills.

Recommendation:  Make the CDOS a valid local diploma option and open it up to all students.

According to NYSED, students who are capable of completing the Regents course work and the CDOS requirements, but who are not capable of passing five Regents exams, will be considered completers and not counted in either the dropout or the graduation statistics.  These students are entitled to remain in high school until the year that they turn 21 to continue trying to pass the remaining regents exams.  If they do not pass these exams and they do not earn a high school diploma they will be considered high school drop outs by society, regardless of how NYSED classifies these students in a report.

Recently, the MTA listed a job for a custodian that required a high school diploma.   One of the jobs most in demand right now is truck drivers, but to apply to any major trucking company, you must have a high school diploma.  There are a multitude of jobs across industries that will not recognize the CDOS as anything of worth and that would stilll require a high school diploma.

Recommendation: Make the CDOS a valid local diploma and open it up to all students.

Students who choose to pursue a CDOS are still expected to take Regents courses and pass five Regents exams.  Many students end up on a test and punish cycle for many reasons, but primarily because their learning disabilities are a barrier to passing complex high stakes exams.  Students who do not pass Regents exams are then mandated into AIS but also must complete work in the next credit courses.  For many students, there are just not enough class hours to complete their course work, take AIS classes and complete the extensive work hours required by the CDOS requirements.

Recommendation:  Offer alternative assessments in lieu of passing high stakes exams, such as portfolios, or project based work.

Federal regulations mandate that students be tested in high school, but they are very clear that using these exams as high stakes graduation requirements are a state level decision.

Regents Meeting Notes 9/16/2015 diploma

NYSED put out this memo which was made public on September 14th.

https://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/meetings/Sep%202015/915p12d3revised.pdf

Amendment to Regulations regarding Graduation Requirements to Extend the Appeal Process to include Appeal of Scores for the Safety Net Local Diploma for Students with Disabilities.

This memo will grant the opportunity to all SPED students who have taken a Regents exam twice and scored a 52 to 54 to apply for a waiver so that they do not have to keep taking this exam.  The student must have a passing grade, good attendance and a recommendation from their teacher.  Students may use this waiver option on two exams.

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Regent Tilles was adamant that this was a good step but not far enough.  He called for this to be made retroactive to the graduating class of 2015.  (The NYSED attorney stated that there is a statutory limitation for making laws retroactive, but students from the class of 2015 who are enrolled in school would be able to use the waiver, as they would be scheduled to graduate after 2016).

Tilles went on further to discuss the CDOS, and that he supported it when he voted for it, but the work was not done to make it a valid credential.   He said that all efforts were to be made that the CDOS would be recognized as a real skills diploma and that has not happened.  He feels responsible for students being offered something that is “not worth something.”  That colleges, civil service and military expect real diplomas.

Regent Cottrell asked if there were different levels of disability (that would require different types/levels of assessments.)  NYSED presenter DeLorenzo described the SAAC credential and discussed alternate standards for severe disabilities.  He did not publicly state that yes, there are a multitude of ranges of disabilities.

Regent Cea stated that she was in favor of this proposal and said she is also pushing for project based assessments.

Regent Ouderkirk asked who was working on different graduation options.  Berlin or Elia stated that it was a committee of SED employees working on this, with no outside advisers.  (Note:  We need to push for NYSED to listen to the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma).  At this time, Elia (or Berlin) described NYSED looking at CTE options and definitely said “tests”, which I heard as not project based or real skills assessment.  Similar to how NYSED rolled out the Regents Pathways with just a lot more written tests to choose from.

There was a separate agenda item to discuss the release of the Algebra II/Trig regents exams.  At this time Regent Johnson raised the question of why are there five regents exams and is that a valid assessment of college and career readiness.  Commissioner Elia stated that staff at SED were looking at what other states are doing and additional pathways.  Regent Johnson also brought up phone calls that she received from parents over the summer requesting that the old Regents be brought back as they were too difficult for their children to pass.  This was dismissed by Berlin as the students could only have failed the CC Regents up to two times at this point.

Please note:  I will review with my co-attendee and update from her notes.