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State announces skills needed for graduation

Much like the Queen of England, the state Regents exams aren’t going away, nor will they have as much authority as they once did.

State Education Department officials outlined during the state Board of Regents meeting Monday the next steps of the transition to new graduation standards in the state. Nothing is changing immediately. According to the presentation during Monday’s meeting, the Regents will spend July getting feedback from groups that attended meetings when the new standards were developed over the past four years. August through October will be spent developing a budget to implement the new standards with a full plan presented to the Board of Regents in November. The November presentation will include projected timelines to implement the new standards.

There are four broad actions that were outlined Monday.

The first action is adopting the New York State Portrait of a Graduate to outline the skills students must demonstrate to graduate. Those skills include showing an ability to be a critical thinker, be an innovative problem solver, be literate across all content areas, be culturally competent, meet a social-emotional component, show an ability to be an effective communicator, and be able to be a global citizen.

Second, Education Department officials also propose a redefinition of how course credits are compiled and calculated. Rather than focus on credits as time-based units of study, state officials want to expand the ways students can show mastery of the state’s learning standards as they complete the portrait of a graduate. Students will be allowed to demonstrate proficiency several ways, including approved work- or service-based learning experiences; dual credit programs such as early college high school; earning a New York State seal or credential; traditional high school courses; approved Career and Technical Education programs; participation in the arts; and passing approved assessments, including Regents exams. Changing how credits are used will help students with disabilities and English language learners by giving them flexibility to demonstrate their understanding and skills in the way best aligned with their strengths and abilities.

Third, the state will transition away from using specific testing requirements in order to receive a high school diploma, meaning students won’t need to pass the Regents exams or a +1 Pathway Assessment in order to graduate from high school. Regents examinations will continue to be available as one of the measures students can use to show proficiency, while new measures determined locally can be used to demonstrate learning for students who choose not to take Regents exams. Students will still be required to take state-level tests required by federal education laws.

Fourth, Education Department officials want to move to a system with only one diploma available to all graduates. School districts will be required to confer diplomas to all students who satisfy the state’s requirements and eliminate the local diploma. The new system will allow an “advanced designation” diploma to become a seal or endorsement, with schools allowed to add their own additional seals and endorsements.

“The bold vision we are advancing today is a direct result of countless hours of collaborative work from an incredibly diverse group of expert practitioners and the public,” said Betty Rosa, state education commissioner. “The educational transformation we envision reflects the thoughtful input we received from our stakeholders – particularly from public school students and their families. It takes an incredible amount of time, work, and collaborative effort to transform an education system, and we will not stop working until we get the job done right for all New Yorkers.”

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