ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 20, 2014 - New York State United Teachers today expressed strong support for new pathways to graduation for students in the arts, humanities, STEM and Career and Technical Education, calling it a long overdue step in the right direction.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said the Regents' unanimous support would allow all students to graduate by demonstrating they have a strong, core academic background, as well as the knowledge, skills and CTE coursework to apply their interests to industry-related jobs in their chosen fields.
"Providing additional pathways to a high school diploma for all students, including those in CTE programs, is the right move," said Magee, who noted the 4:1 option was recommended by a NYSUT report, Unlocking New Futures for New York's High School Graduates. "The Regents and state Education Department deserve credit for listening to educators and providing flexibility to students, even as they uphold high standards and strengthen and advance CTE education and other disciplines."
The preliminary vote to change the graduation requirements means students would be allowed to substitute a passing score on an approved CTE exam for one of the five Regents exams currently required for graduation. High school students would still take a balanced curriculum, including American history, global studies, science, math and English language arts. But, in what is known as the 4:1 option, students would also be able to earn a Regents diploma by completing required coursework, passing four Regents exams and succeeding on an approved CTE exam or another alternative exam.
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino said, "This opens up new pathways to engage all of our students and help them on their chosen path to success."
Fortino noted, however, the 4:1 option is a first step.
"These new requirements create an important and exciting new pathway to graduation for students. Yet, there is more to be done," Fortino said. "There must be a greater investment of funding and more support for CTE program development. Discussions with students about career exploration should begin earlier — well before high school. And, CTE programs should be finely honed to strategically focus on workforce needs and job growth so students can acquire skills with value in the labor market." Fortino added that NYSUT looks forward to continuing to bring teacher voice to the process, including participation in a blue-ribbon panel on the arts.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
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