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EMSC Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Draft Proposed Policy on “Making-up” Course Credit and Receiving Course Credit for Independent Study



April 13, 2009



Goal 1






Issue for Discussion


Should the Regents establish a policy on “making up” course credit and receiving course credit for independent study?  Should the draft proposed policy be released to the field for input and advice?


Reason for Consideration

              Review of Policy


Proposed Handling


This item will be before the EMSC Committee for discussion in April 2009. 


Procedural History




Background Information


Regents Regulations have for many years contained detailed provisions for awarding units of credit to students. Twenty-two units of credit in particular subject areas are required to earn a high school diploma in New York State. Over time, different paths to graduation have been used to enable students to take advantage of unique learning opportunities and accommodate special circumstances. “Making up” course credit (often referred to as credit recovery) and “independent study” are two such examples. “Making up” course credit is intended to help students master learning outcomes after they have failed to complete a course. Independent study is intended to allow students to pursue a subject in greater depth.


As these pathways are more frequently used, it is important to provide clear, up-to-date guidance on what is permissible concerning the awarding of credit.  It is also critical that there is sufficient rigor to ensure that all students will meet the competencies required for success in college and the workplace. The need is statewide. However, since New York City has the largest number of students, the Department began preliminary conversations with the New York City Department of Education and prepared the following draft proposal for Regents consideration and for additional feedback from the field.


The proposal specifies the circumstances and conditions under which students may earn credits through “make-up” opportunities if they fail or do not complete a course. The draft proposal requires that make-up opportunities must be approved by a school-based panel and ensure that the student will master the appropriate learning standards under the guidance of a certified teacher (previously there was no such requirement).  The draft also specifies requirements regarding whether and how students may take “independent study” and receive credit. In general, the proposal limits independent study to three credits, at least two of which must be for electives, and a certified teacher must oversee the student’s work.


Current Regulations Governing the Awarding of Units of Credit


Part 100 of the Regulations contains specific provisions for awarding units of credit to students.  Students can currently earn units of credit toward a high school diploma in the following ways:



Most students earn credit through the first option after receiving instruction from certified teachers that is designed to ensure the achievement of the State’s learning standards.


The Regulations include additional options for earning units of credit in specific subjects or by specific groups of students:



In addition, summer school can provide opportunities for students to earn credit (8 NYCRR Part 110).



Possible Clarifications and/or Amendments to the Regulations

To Address “Make-Up” Course Credit and Independent Study




              Sometimes students may come close to passing a course and may have deficiencies only in certain clearly defined areas of knowledge and skill. In those cases, it may not be necessary for the student to retake the entire course. Instead, the student might be permitted to make up those deficiencies, master the appropriate standards, and receive credit. Of course, this should only be allowed under carefully controlled conditions to ensure that the student does receive the opportunity to learn and does meet the required standards.


We propose that the Regulations be amended to specifically delineate what make-up opportunities are permitted for the purpose of earning course credit and under what circumstances they will be allowed. 


We propose that the Regulations be amended to require that:









The provisions above do not require specific seat time requirements for the make-up opportunity since the opportunity must be tailored to the individual student’s need. There is precedent for allowing a reduced amount of seat time in the context of summer school.




              At times students want to pursue a course of study in greater depth than is offered in the school’s curriculum. Students are required to complete 22 units of credit, but they typically complete more. Schools offer a number of elective courses, but may not offer certain courses that the student wants to pursue. Examples could include highly advanced math or botanical research. In those cases, it is important to provide guidance to ensure that a student is appropriately pursuing and mastering the subject matter.


We propose that the Regulations be amended to permit credit for independent study done at and outside of a student’s high school.  We propose that the Regulations be amended to require:


Independent Study - A student may earn a maximum of 3 units of elective credit towards a Regents diploma through independent study. To award independent study credit, the following provisions must be met:










              We recommend that the draft proposed policy on make-up and independent study course credit be released to the field for input and advice. 


Timetable for Implementation


              We will bring the comments received from the field back to the Regents for discussion. We will then revise the proposal as the Regents direct and prepare draft Regulations for consideration and discussion by the Regents.