November 16, 2023

Regents commission calls for new pathways to graduation, reflecting NYSUT task force recommendations

Author: Anna Gronewold
Source:  NYSUT Communications
melinda person on graduation measures

The State Education Department’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures released recommendations on Monday that closely align with NYSUT’s More Teaching Less Testing Task Force Report, released last week.

The new recommendations — which are now under consideration by the Board of Regents through spring 2024 — would include expanding state graduation requirements to include additional pathways to a diploma outside of the traditional Regents exam-centered standard.

NYSUT President Melinda Person referred to the SED recommendations as a “light at the end of the tunnel,” following years of union advocacy to limit emphasis on standardized testing when it comes to measuring actual learning.

“The recommendations recognize what educators know so well: That each of our students is a unique learner with talents, skills and aspirations that should be fully explored and nurtured on their way to graduation,” Person said. 

The Blue Ribbon Commission recommended a broad slate of new measures, including:

  • Condensing the three diploma types into one;
  • Reorganizing and streamlining credit requirements;
  • Creating tailored graduation requirements to address unique groups of students, such as non-compulsory age students and refugee students;
  • Creating new rubric for performance-based assessments that might be allowed as paths to graduation;
  • Ensuring access to Career and Technical Education programs for more students across New York state.

These fall under the graduation requirement recommendations developed by NYSUT’s More Teaching Less Testing Task force, which called for a reimagining of the diploma pathways to ensure that students learn skills and demonstrate readiness for higher education and the 21st century workforce.

NYSUT Task Force members found:

  • Additional pathways within the current graduation requirements should include alternative programs and assessments such as interdisciplinary capstone projects, project-based learning, performance-based assessments and dual-enrollment courses;
  • The state should provide opportunities for experiential and skills-based programs to be included as alternative graduation pathways to Regents exams. 

As the State Education Department considers which of its recommendations to implement and how, NYSUT will also be moving forward with examinations of specific policy proposals and deeper dives into how new proposals can best support certain student populations, such as English language learners and students with disabilities.