Board of Regents weighs changes to graduation requirements
The New York State Board of Regents is considering sweeping changes that would alter the requirements high school students need to graduate. As our Matt Hunter reports, while some say the changes are necessary to prepare graduates for a career in today's high tech world, others believe it will have unintended results.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- At its monthly meeting Monday, the New York State Board of Regents discussed landmark overhauls that would drastically change a student's trek to graduation.
The 17-member board is weighing whether to create two new pathways geared toward training graduates for career's in an evolving high tech world.
"This is the old argument, maybe one size doesn't fit all, maybe we ought to create a bit more flexibility," said James Tallon, the regent representing the Binghamton area.
In addition to offering the current track in which student's are required to take five regents exams to graduate, students would be able to choose between the STEM or Science, Technology, Engineer and Math pathway, or the Career and Technology Education pathway known as CTE.
The latter is designed to provide technical and job training for students who may not be interested in pursuing a four year degree.
"Career and technical education does provide a critical role for a lot of students but not enough students. This is a way to embrace that," said John King, the Commissioner of Education for New York State.
"If New York wants to stay competitive in this game of thriving and a future, we've got to align what youngsters are getting in high school with what their opportunities are after high school," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said.
While many educators acknowledge the need to expand career and technical training, not all are convinced the changes are the best option.
The proposal calls for no longer requiring a student to pass a regents exam in Global Studies to graduate; a class many educators believe is essential to make students well rounded.
"I come from the point of view that there's more to education than just job preparation, that to be an educated person means to develop one's whole mind," said Joseph Corr, superintendent of the North Colonie School District.
Of the five required regents exams, global studies currently has the highest fail rate.
Tisch says students wouldn’t be required to pass the exam to graduate, they would still be encouraged to take the course.
With that decision in a student's hand, many fear the course will fall by the wayside.
"I think it could end up diminishing the importance of a course which I think is pretty important to a student's overall development," Corr said.
While Global Studies may cease to be a mainstay on most students' transcripts, many regents members say they're still convinced the new pathways will create new opportunities.
“This discussion is about creating more options, it's not about locking in or narrowing a student into eliminating a set of choices," Tallon said.
After Monday's meeting, the board decided to seek more feedback from local school districts across the state.