New Research Informs New York State on Revising High School Graduation Requirements
This fall, the New York Board of Regents will revisit and potentially redesign graduation requirements in the state. To prepare, the Board of Regents’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures is rigorously examining a vast array of research, evidence, perspectives, and recommendations, including Graduation Requirements and Measures, a report prepared by the Region 2 Comprehensive Center.
“We have an opportunity in this moment to create a system that, in fact, is intentionally designed to help all students. That’s really the goal here,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr., said during a November 2022 board meeting. “What does this diploma mean, what does it stand for, and more importantly, how do we ensure that all young people in New York have access to the kinds of opportunities that will allow them to be successful at their next level, whatever that level is.”
The Blue Ribbon Commission, which includes educators, parents, students, and business leaders, is slated this fall to make formal recommendations to the Board regarding
- What knowledge, skills, and experiences are important for ALL students to have by the end of high school?
- How should students show that they have the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for graduation?
“This effort is about providing different avenues—equally rigorous—for students to demonstrate their applied knowledge and that they are ready to graduate with a diploma that signifies educational excellence and equity for all students in New York State,” avowed State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “It is about ensuring that what students are learning is relevant to them and useful to society. It is about creating school communities and establishing relationships, where educators, parents, and students all work together to improve teaching and learning.”
To support their decision-making process, NYSED requested that the Region 2 Comprehensive Center (R2CC) undertake research to ascertain what graduation requirements and measures should look like for the students of New York State.
“What does this diploma mean, what does it stand for, and more importantly, how do we ensure that all young people in New York have access to the kinds of opportunities that will allow them to be successful at their next level, whatever that level is.”
The resulting comprehensive report, which was presented in late 2022 to the New York State Board of Regents found that
- Access to financial aid information, extended exposure to mathematics curriculum, and optional course work, such as advanced placement, increase the likelihood of college enrollment, persistence, and completion.
- Performance-based tasks and assessments—in which students present their work in lieu of a traditional exit exam—are among the ways that some states and countries assess whether students have met standards for graduation.
- Apprenticeships and work-based opportunities are highly valued, with other countries showing it is possible for students to participate in both an academic and vocational track.
Survey participants highly ranked the need for students to learn to collaborate, communicate, and self-manage, as well as learn career and life skills like financial and digital literacy.
“The Blue Ribbon Committee members will welcome this report,” said Regent Judith Chin in the Regents meeting during which the report was presented by the R2CC team, “because it will become foundational in the kind of discussions that we will have and ultimately lead to the recommendations.”
The findings in Graduation Requirements and Measures were based on
- a comprehensive literature review;
- a state and international scan of college and career readiness policies and practices; and
- a summary of input from thousands of stakeholders across the state.
Virtual public meetings, a necessity during the pandemic, enabled the department to collect input from a large audience than typical. The department estimates that more than 2,000 students, parents, educators, and business leaders across the state participated in the meetings and other opportunities to provide input, such as through an online survey or discussion management platform. R2CC reports that the discussion management platform made the anonymous, rapid capture of individual ideas, as well as reactions to others’ ideas, possible.
“I applaud the department for rigorously examining research, evidence-based practices, and a wide range of perspectives to ensure that students across the state, for generations to come, are set up to succeed,” said R2CC Director Sarah Barzee.
This summer, the R2CC will present to the Blue Ribbon Commission a state scan exploring how other states and districts use performance-based assessments as part of their overall assessment policy.
“The R2CC Team has been with us from the very beginning as thought partners, and as individuals that always stay present and are always there with us to really think about our total work as a state,” expressed Commissioner Rosa.
The Region 2 Comprehensive Center works with state education agencies and their regional and local constituents in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island to improve outcomes for all children and better serve communities through capacity-building technical assistance, content expertise, and other services.
These resources were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.