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.

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