Graduation Requirements
January 20, 2017

Fact Sheet 17-3: Multiple Pathways to Graduation and Changes to Part 100 Diploma Requirements

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services
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Fact Sheet No. 17-3 (Replaces Fact Sheet 15-04)                                                  January 2017

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Pathways to Graduation

Over the past several years, the Board of Regents has been discussing pathways to graduation. NYSUT has long supported efforts to increase opportunities for students to experience quality, integrated CTE programs and multiple pathways to graduation through greater flexibility in high school graduation requirements. The approved pathways go a long way in addressing the diverse needs, talents and interests of our students.

At its January 12, 2015 meeting, the Board of Regents approved multiple pathways to graduation and changes to diploma requirements. Specifically, new pathways to graduation have been created for students in the arts, humanities, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), languages other than English (LOTE) and career and technical education (CTE).  The pathways will provide students pursuing different fields of interest comparable, rigorous routes to two-year and four-year colleges, additional career training, and employment. The pathways and changes to diploma requirements establish options for students that would have a positive influence on the career and academic readiness for post-secondary opportunities. These changes will go into effect January 28, 2015 and are available to students eligible to graduate June 2015, and thereafter.

At their March 2016 meeting, the Board of Regents approved an amendment to sections 100.5 and 100.6 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to establish a new Career Development Occupational Studies (CDOS) graduation pathway for all students. The CDOS Pathway is applicable to all students eligible to graduate in June 2016 and thereafter.

In addition, the regulations were revised to expand the opportunity to all students to earn the New York State CDOS Commencement Credential. Previously, only students with disabilities were eligible to receive a CDOS Commencement Credential as a supplement to a regular high school diploma.

Diploma Requirements

To achieve a high school diploma in New York State (NYS) students must:

  1. Earn 22 units of credit by completing a unit of study and mastering the learning outcomes for courses, and
  2. Obtain a passing score on required Regents examination (5-9 exams), Regents Competency Tests (RCT)* or Department Approved Alternative Assessments.

These requirements are separate and distinct and do not have to happen simultaneously.

  • Students may earn diploma credit for successfully completing a course, but fail to meet the corresponding Regents assessment requirement.  OR
  • Students can fail a course and receive no academic credit but fulfill an assessment requirement if they pass a Regents examination in that course.

*The RCT is only available to students who entered grade 9 prior to September 2011

How will the Pathways to Graduation and Changes to Part 100 Affect the Existing Diploma Requirements?

Credit Requirements: No change - 22 credits

Assessment Requirements: Students who are otherwise eligible to graduate June 2015 and thereafter will have the following assessment options:

  • All Students must pass the following four (4) required Regents Exams:
    • 1 Math, 1 Science, 1 Social Studies, 1 ELA; and
  • Students must choose one (1) of the following additional examinations:
    • Additional Social Studies Regents Exam; or
    • Additional Science Regents Exam; or
    • Additional Math Regents Exam; or
    • Approved CTE, LOTE or Arts Pathway Assessment; or
    • Department Approved Alternative Assessment found at the following link

Pathway assessments in LOTE have not yet been approved by SED. As soon as assessments have been identified they will be released. Locally developed Checkpoint B examinations in LOTE are not approved pathway assessments.

What is a CTE Pathway?

A student pursuing a CTE pathway must:

  • Be in an approved CTE program of study;
  • Pass the four required Regents examinations and meet graduation requirements; and
  • Take one additional examination from 30 technical assessments that have been approved for use in the “4+1” Regents exam option (beginning June 2015)

Currently, students may earn up to 8 integrated academic credits in approved CTE programs.

What are the Pathway Assessments in CTE?

Students may meet the fifth assessment required for graduation by passing a Department-Approved Pathway Assessment in Career and Technical Education (CTE) following successful completion of a CTE program. There are currently 30 assessments approved as CTE Pathway assessments. The assessments and cut score requirements approved for use as Department-Approved Pathway Assessments in CTE can be found at:   

What are the approved pathway assessments in Humanities?

A student pursuing a Humanities pathway must:

  • Pass the four required Regents examinations and meet graduation requirements; and
  • Take one additional Regents examination in Social Studies; or
  • Take an English or social studies assessment from the list of Department Approved Alternative Examinations found at:

What are the approved pathway assessments in STEM?

A student pursuing a STEM pathway must:

  • Pass the four required Regents examinations and meet graduation requirements; and
  • Take an additional science or mathematics Regents Exam; or
  • Take a science or mathematics examination on the Department Approved Alternative Examination list found at

The fifth assessment must measure content other than that measured by one of the four required Regents Exams. For example, a student could take the Regents exam in Living Environment and the SAT in Chemistry or a student could take the Common Core Algebra and Geometry Regents exams.

What are the approved pathway assessments in the Arts?

Students may meet the fifth assessment required for graduation by passing a Department-Approved Pathway Assessment in the Arts.  This list of approved arts assessments is consistent with Phase 1 of the New York State Arts Pathway Assessment System discussed by the New York State Blue Ribbon Commission on the Arts. The assessments and cut score requirements for Department-

Approved Pathway Assessments in the Arts can be found at:

What is the CDOS Pathway? (Effective June 2016)

A student pursuing a CDOS pathway must:

  • Pass the four required Regents examinations and meet graduation requirements; and
  • Meet the requirements to earn the New York State CDOS Commencement Credential.

There are two options available for students to earn the CDOS Commencement Credential:

Option 1:

Students must:

  • Develop a Career Plan that includes documentation of the student’s self-identified career interests; career-related strengths and needs; career goals; and career and technical coursework and work-based learning experiences that the student plans to engage in to achieve those goals.
  • Demonstrate achievement of the commencement level CDOS learning standards in the areas of career exploration and development; integrated learning; and universal foundation skills (Standards 1, 2 and 3a). Successfully completed at least 216 hours of CTE coursework (equivalent to two courses) and/or work-based learning experiences (of which at least 54 hours must be in work-based learning experiences).
  • Complete at least one  employability profile that documents the student’s employability skills and experiences; attainment of each of the commencement level CDOS learning standards; and, as appropriate, attainment of technical knowledge and work-related skills, work experiences, performance on industry-based assessments and other work-related and academic achievements.


Option 2:

Alternatively, a student may be awarded a CDOS Commencement Credential by meeting the requirements for one of the nationally recognized rigorous work readiness credentials, including but not limited to:

  • National Work Readiness Credential;
  • SkillsUSA Work Force Ready Employability Assessment;
  • National Career Readiness Certificate WorkKeys - (ACT); and
  • Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems Workforce Skills Certification System.

How will the Social Studies credit requirements change as a result of the changes to part 100?

Part 100 of the Regulations required students to successfully complete four units of study in social studies. Two of the units of study were prescribed in regulations as one credit U.S. History, one-half credit Economics and one-half credit Participation in Government. There was no language in the regulation that stated that students must take two units of study in Global History and Geography. The change to part 100, clarifies that two units of credit in social studies must be in Global History and Geography in addition to one unit of credit in U.S. History, and one-half unit of credit in both Economics and Participation in Government.

When is the first administration of the new Global History and Geography II (1750 to present) Regents Examination?

  • The first administration of the new Framework-based Regents Examination in Global History and Geography II (Grade 10) will be in June 2019. All students first entering grade 9 in September 2017 will be subject to this exam.
  • It is designed to be administered at the end of grade 10 and cover only the content from year two (1750-present) of this course.

Advice and Resources for Local Leaders

  • It is critical that local leaders work with their administration to share information about the Pathways to Graduation with teachers, guidance counselors, parents, students, the Big 5 and BOCES CTE directors and business and industry partners. Additional information and guidance can be found at:
  • We urge local leaders to work with their administration to implement the pathway and diploma changes and to ensure all students have access to these pathways and educators have the necessary resources and professional development.
  • In November 2013, NYSUT convened a workgroup of New York State CTE practitioners to craft a statewide perspective on CTE issues. The group made a series of recommendations around six principal themes which were included in the NYSUT white paper: “Unlocking New Futures for New York’s High School Graduates.”  Many recommendations were embraced by the Board of Regents in the Pathways to Graduation. This paper is a valuable resource for local leaders when talking about CTE issues.
  • Funding proposals for CTE contained in the Board of Regents State Aid Plan are critical to making the CTE Pathway a real option for students.  We must work together to ensure proposals  these proposals are created, including:
    • Increasing the cap on BOCES salaries that qualify for state aid reimbursement from the 1990 level of $30,000.
    • Eliminate the $3,900 per pupil cap on special services aid for the Big 5 and other non-component districts.
  • The State Education Department has posted the NYS Social Studies Framework and additional resources to assist teachers and districts in developing their local social studies curriculum. You can find the framework at:


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