NYSED needs to step away from the mindset that a local diploma is a ‘less then’ diploma, and also work to stop having the local diploma framed as a booby prize for students with disabilities.
There needs to be safe guards within the Superintendent Determination for schools not to push out students with IEPs who can pass these Regents exams, but still need more time in a school setting to work on the social/emotional component for being ready for their next steps in life. The IEP needs to take precedent, and schools should not be perceived as ‘failing’ should the student needs supersede the school’s need for an increase in their four-year graduation rate.
The over-emphasis on passing regents exams detracts from a well-rounded education for too many students. The Board of Regents claim to be ‘against tracking’ but are okay with students being placed in Algebra 1 for two years for two to three periods a day. Also, the over emphasis on the close reading standard and close writing standard is not a college and career ready skill. Employers require students to be able to express original ideas in writing, not to regurgitate and cite lines from four texts that they just read.
The graduation pathways and non-dependence on five regents exams as high stakes exit criteria need to be extended to the entire student population. The path to a high school diploma should not solely be tied to standardized written exams, and should allow for students to show their talents and abilities in ways that are productive for the individual student.
The consortium model schools with true performance based assessments, have proved to be a successful model for improving student achievement and improving students’ ability to succeed in a college or career after high school. We encourage the Board of Regents to open up the application process and increase the number of public consortium schools using true project based assessments that truly engage learning.