THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

 

TO:                                         EMSC-VESID Committee

 

FROM:                                   James A. Kadamus

 

SUBJECT:                           Proposal on Graduation Standard

 

DATE:                                    May 4, 2005

 

STRATEGIC GOAL:           Goals 1 and 2

 

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

Executive Summary

 

Issue for Discussion

 

            Revised proposal to phase-in the graduation standard of 65 on required Regents exams.

 

Proposed Handling

 

            The Regents EMSC-VESID Committee will continue discussion of the proposal that includes modifications requested at the April meeting and a revision to the proposal.  The 24-month calendar has a decision on the graduation standard scheduled in June 2005. 

 

Procedural History

 

            In October 2003, the Board voted to extend the 55-64 low-pass option for two years.  General education students entering grade 9 in September 2005 will be required to attain a 65 passing score on all required Regents exams in order to graduate. The Regents EMSC-VESID Committee has reviewed student performance data and discussed implementation of a strategy focused on high school completion as part of its agenda on assessment issues and also to inform the Board as it considers whether to revise policy on the graduation standard.

 

In March 2005, the Committee reviewed a draft proposal developed by the Co-Chairs to phase-in the 65 graduation standard.  A new proposal was developed for discussion in April that incorporated modifications suggested by Committee members at the March meeting.  The May proposal includes a revision proposed by the Co-Chairs of the Committee and other modifications requested by members at the April meeting.

 

Background Information

 

The proposal on the graduation standard reviewed by the Committee in March used a phase-in schedule for averaging the passing scores on the required Regents exams for general education students entering grade 9 in September 2005.  The proposal discussed by the Committee in April eliminated averaging of the scores on the Regents exams.  Instead, it specified how many of the five required exams students must score 65 or above since data showed a minimal difference between averaging and requiring a score of 65 on a certain number of exams (see Attachment A). 

 

            The attached proposal includes revisions to the April proposal prepared at the request of the Co-Chairs.  Upon reflection and consideration of the data, the proposal is revised as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

This revision will not only allow time for schools to phase in the 65 passing requirement, but also sets out clear expectation for schools and students.

 

            The proposal attached also includes the following revisions requested by the Committee in April:  (1) an explanation of the high school intervention initiative that has been implemented to focus on the 136 high schools in 12 school districts that have been identified as the high schools that students who are in academic difficulty attend; and (2) further discussion of  the appeals process, especially for some students who may be achieving the standards even though they do not have access to as much resources as their peers in other schools.

 

 

 

Recommendation

 

            The Regents EMSC-VESID Committee should continue discussion of the proposal and reach consensus prior to taking action in June.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

            When the Regents approve a revision to their policy on the graduation standard, changes in Commissioner's Regulations will be needed.  The timeline for discussion and action on the regulations will be determined once a policy decision has been made.

 

 

Attachment


Proposal on Graduation Standard

 

By the Co-Chairs and Members of the Regents EMSC-VESID Committee

 

            Since December 2004, the Regents have been reviewing data on the performance after four years of high school of a cohort of students who entered grade 9 in September 2000.  The statewide results of the School Report Cards released on March 9, 2005, provide even more detailed information on student performance.  After reviewing the data, the Regents conclude the following:

 

 

These trends provide compelling evidence that the public school system has made significant improvements since 1996, and it is important to continue this progress by raising graduation passing standards from 55 to 65 on Regents exams.

 

There are, however, additional data, recently made available as a result of the new student information system, that suggests that meeting higher graduation standards will be a significant challenge to some students in the highest need school districts, specifically those in the large five city districts:

 

        Students overwhelmingly pass Regents exams if they take them.  But too many students in high need districts enter high school unprepared for high school work, fail their courses and are held back.  In the highest need districts, high percentages of students donít pass their courses and therefore donít take Regents exams, which are end-of-course tests, during four years of high school.

        The graduation rates for minority students, who go to school in the highest need districts, are much lower than that for white students.

 

We can identify the students in academic difficulty and the schools they attend.  Our data show that these students are concentrated in 136 high schools in 12 school districts.  In January and February, the Regents EMSC-VESID Committee identified high school intervention strategies that build upon current Regents strategies, such as the statewide urban district strategy, and our own experience in working with urban districts.  The high school intervention strategies include:

 

        Requiring all schools to identify all the students in academic difficulty, to notify the parents, and to report what they are doing to help these students succeed; and

        Expanding and strengthening our statewide initiative with the high schools that have the lowest graduation rates and the highest proportions of students taking three or fewer Regents exams in four years by bringing the 12 school districts together to evaluate and implement strategies to improve graduation rates and performance on Regents exams.  This strategy is being implemented through two meetings with all of these districts.  One was held March 21-22 in Albany and a second is scheduled for May 23-24 in New York City.

 

In addition to these high school intervention strategies, it is important to continue progress in raising the graduation standard from 55 to 65 on Regents exams.  Therefore, we propose the following to implement the higher graduation standard:

 

            The passing score on the five required Regents exams for graduation will be raised according to the following schedule:

           

 

 

 

 

This schedule not only allows adequate time for schools and students to phase in the 65 passing requirement, but also sets out the expected level of achievement for schools and students.

 

During the first three cohorts of the phase-in (2005, 2006 and 2007), students who do not score 65 on all exams will receive a local diploma.  Students who score 65 on all five exams will receive a Regents diploma.  Students who score 65 on eight exams will receive an Advanced Regents Diploma.  The Regents Competency Test safety net for students with disabilities will continue to be available for students entering grade 9 prior to September 2010.  Students using the safety net will receive a local diploma.  The low-pass option of scoring between 55-64 on the required Regents exams to earn a local diploma will continue to be available for students with disabilities.

 

In addition, we propose that, beginning with students entering grade 9 in 2005, an appeals process be created for students who score within three points of 65 on a required Regents exam for graduation and have a 65 course average.  An appeal may be initiated by a student or by the student's parent/guardian or teacher on his/her behalf.  Some students may achieve the State standards as demonstrated through their coursework even though they may not have access to resources comparable to their peers in other schools.  Some students may have multiple teachers in a subject area during the school year and may have less access to up-to-date instructional materials, technology and laboratories.  The Regents believe these students should be considered for the appeals process assuming they meet the criteria set out below.

 

Students seeking an appeal must meet the following criteria to demonstrate that they meet the State learning standards:

 

1.                  Take the Regents exam in question two times.

2.                  Have a score on the Regents exam under appeal within 3 points of the 65 passing score on that exam.

3.                  Present evidence that they have taken advantage of academic help provided by the school in the subject tested by the Regents exam under appeal.

4.                  Have an attendance rate of 95 percent for the school year (except for excused absences) during which they last took the Regents exam under appeal.  Local school districts set their own policy for what is considered an excused or unexcused absence.

5.                  Have a course average in the subject under appeal that meets or exceeds the required passing grade by the school.  The course average must be based on the student's official transcript that records grades achieved by the student in each quarter of the school year.

6.                  Be recommended for an exemption to the graduation requirement by their teacher or Department chairperson in the subject of the Regents exam under appeal.

 

Students who meet all of these criteria would be eligible to apply to their school principal on a form to be developed by the Commissioner of Education.  The principal would chair a standing committee of three teachers (not including the teacher of the student making the appeal) and two administrators (the principal and one other) that would review all appeals and rule on them within five days of submission.  The committee may, in its discretion, interview the teacher or Department chairperson

recommending the appeal.  The committee may interview the student making the appeal to determine that the student has demonstrated the knowledge and skills required under the State learning standards.  The school superintendent, or Chancellor in New York City or his/her designee, shall sign off on all appeals.  The school superintendent, or Chancellor in New York City or his/her designee, may interview the student making the appeal to determine that the student has demonstrated the knowledge and skills required under the State learning standards. 

 

            Students may be considered for an appeal on two of the five required Regents exams.  Students who are granted an appeal on two exams will receive a local diploma.  Students who are granted an appeal on one exam will be determined to have met all graduation requirements, and thereby earn a Regents diploma.

 

The school will make a record of all appeals received and granted and report this information to the State Education Department.  The record of appeals will appear on the School Report Card.  All school records relating to appeals of Regents exams must be available for inspection by the State Education Department.

 

These proposals in combination:

 

        Create a clearly defined four-year schedule for raising the graduation standard to 65 on Regents exams;

        Recognize that some students have strengths in certain subjects and rewards them for higher performance on certain exams;

        Provide a reasonable process to take into consideration the successful coursework of students who score within a few points of passing a Regents exam;

        Provide students with unlimited opportunities to retake the required Regents exams to improve their scores; and

        Give a reasonable time period for the highest need districts to continue to build district instructional capacity to ensure that all students take and pass the Regents exams at the 65 proficiency level.

        Provide a clear strategy for improving academic achievement for students in those high schools that have the lowest four-year graduation rates.

 

 


Attachment A

 

Number and Percentage of General-Education Students Who First Entered Grade 9 in 2000 Meeting Various Regents Examination Score Requirements

 

Regents Exam Scores

Total State

New York City

Number of students

Percentage of students

Number of students

Percentage of students

General-education students with scores on five exams

130,924*

 

36,456

 

General-education students with scores of 55 or higher on five exams

120,058

91.7

31,431

86.2

General-education students with five exams, at least two scores above 65, and no score below 55

119,640

91.4

31,187

85.5

General-education students with five exams, at least three scores above 65, and no score below 55

118,248

90.3

30,337

83.2

General-education students with an average score of 65 or higher on five exams, at least three scores above 65, and no score below 55

116,630

89.1

29,179

80.0

General-education students with five exams, at least four scores above 65 and all scores above 55

114,081

87.1

27,927

76.6

General-education students with an average score of 65 or higher on five exams, at least four scores above 65 and all scores above 55

113,801

86.9

27,707

76.0

General-education students with a score of 65 or higher on five exams

101,123

77.2

21,887

60.0

 

*  Note that this represents only those general-education students in the cohort that took exams.  The total 2000 student cohort was 199, 312 students, of which 178,050 students were in general education.