Skip to main content

[node:field_meeting_type] | October 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 8:30am

sed seal                                                                                                 

 

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

TO:

EMSC Committee

FROM:

John B. King, Jr.

SUBJECT:

Making Up Course Credit

DATE:

October 13, 2009

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Action

Does the Board of Regents wish to implement a policy on making up course credit and direct staff to draft regulatory language based on the policy?

 

Reason(s) for Consideration



Adoption of Proposed Policy

Proposed Handling

This item will be before the EMSC Committee for action in October 2009.

Procedural History

N/A

Background Information

Students earn, and school district officials award, units of credit according to the provisions in Part 100 of the Commissioner’s Regulations. Most students earn credit after successfully completing courses of study taught by certified teachers where the instruction is designed to facilitate the attainment of the State’s learning standards. However, alternatives to the traditional way of earning credit can provide some students opportunities for completing diploma requirements. These alternatives include credit by examination, accelerated course completion, and advanced out-of-school study as well as making-up failed or incomplete courses (credit recovery), independent study, and digital learning (online courses).

In April 2009, the EMSC Committee of the Board of Regents reviewed a “Draft Proposed Policy on Making Up Course Credit and Receiving Course Credit for Independent Study.” After review and discussion, the Regents directed staff to seek public input on the draft policy on making up course credit.  A field survey was posted on the Department’s Web site in June and concluded in September.   A summary and analysis of the survey responses is attached to this item (Attachment A.)

Recommendation

Based on the work to date and input from the field, we recommend that the Regents adopt the proposed policy below.   

 

Making Up Incomplete or Failed Course Credit

 

  • School district officials may provide various programs for students who were previously enrolled in a course but failed to demonstrate mastery of the intended course outcomes.
  • A school-based panel, consisting of at least the principal, a teacher in the area for which the student must make up credit, and a guidance director (or other administrator) must approve all programs for make-up credit.
  • In order to provide the appropriate program to make up failed or incomplete course credit, the panel must consider each student’s needs and course completion deficiencies.
  • The program must be aligned with the Regents learning standards.
  • In order to receive credit, the student must receive equivalent, intensive instruction in the deficiency areas of the course by a teacher certified in the subject area.
  • The student must also demonstrate mastery of the initial deficiency area(s).
  • If an end-of-course Regents examination is required for graduation, the student must also pass the Regents examination to fulfill the graduation requirements, and, to the extent determined by the school district, receive course credit.

 

There are benefits and risks related to adopting the proposed policy. 

Benefits include:

 

  • Many school districts are already providing make up opportunities for their students.  This proposal will help to ensure that students receive appropriate and rigorous educational supports.
  • The current proposal is responsive to field feedback in that a majority of survey respondents supported clarifying or amending Commissioner’s Regulations to outline permissible make up opportunities.

 

Risks include:

 

  • Given current fiscal constraints local school districts may have some difficulties implementing additional quality education programs.
  • Current budgetary limitations may make it difficult to provide for the necessary staff to implement this proposal at the State and local levels.

 

Additional Information

School district officials have flexibility in providing programs for students who have had the opportunity to complete a unit of study in a course (i.e. were previously enrolled in a course) but failed to demonstrate mastery of the intended course outcomes. Course credit makeup options include but are not limited to:

             

  • Repeating an entire course, which may be appropriate for a student who completes only a portion (less than 50%) of the initial course;
  • Taking the course again as part of a summer school program, which may be appropriate for  a student who completes an entire course but has not demonstrated mastery of the intended outcomes in several areas;
  • Receiving intensive instruction in the deficiency areas of the course, which may be appropriate for a student who completes an entire course and has demonstrated mastery of the intended outcomes in most areas but not all;
  • Digital learning (online study) which may be appropriate for a student who completes an entire course and has demonstrated mastery of the intended outcomes in most areas but not all.  The online instruction must be of comparable scope and quality to regular classroom instruction, must provide for documentation of satisfactory achievement through tools such as tests, essays, reports and other appropriate forms of student work, and must be supported by regular and substantive interaction between a student and the teacher certified in the makeup subject area.

 

In all options, local school officials are responsible for implementing the credit make up program and for insuring quality control in awarding credit. Credit can only be awarded when the record indicates that the work is consistent with New York State commencement learning standards. In courses with related Regents examinations students are expected to take and pass those examinations after completing the relevant course of study.

                In order to support the selection and use of quality digital (online) learning materials for purposes of making up course credit, the State Education Department will examine a number of important strategies including the development of an approval process.  Funds would be identified and a request for proposal (RFP) issued to create, implement, and evaluate a process by which digital content providers would submit their online courses for approval for use at the local school district level.

 

Next Steps:

                  After the Regents adopt a policy on Making Up Course Credit, staff will draft regulations for discussion and adoption by the Board of Regents to implement that policy.  Upon adoption of the regulations, staff will produce guidelines and facilitate the distribution of examples of programs that enable students to successfully make up credit.

In the future, staff will bring additional items to the Board of Regents related to other alternative ways for earning credit including independent study and digital (online) courses to foster the development of additional policies, regulations and/or requests for proposals in support of higher levels of learning and increased diploma completion.

 

 

 

 

 

Attachment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                              Attachment A

 

P-16: EMSC Make up Course Credit Survey Data Analysis

              The following is a summary and analysis of the P-16: EMSC Making up Credit Survey data collected during the summer of 2009. The New York State Education Department sought comment on proposed additions to Part 100 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education related to providing credit for making up incomplete or failed course work.  Survey collection commenced on June 30, 2009 and was scheduled to conclude on August 15, 2009.  However, due to requests from the field, the collection period was extended through September 14, 2009.

For each of the four questions, a majority of respondents answered “Yes”, suggesting that they supported the proposal to clarify or amend Commissioner’s regulations to outline permissible make up opportunities. Most of the respondents (80 %) indicated that the proposed provisions provide significant opportunity for making up incomplete or failed course work. A majority (69 %) said the proposed provisions could be implemented but a majority (62%) also indicated that there are significant challenges for implementation (e.g., resource or financial concerns).  Many respondents (71%) agreed that the proposed provisions meet the appropriate unique needs of students.

Respondents:

Of the 532 respondents, the location identification breakout sorted to 36 percent Rural, 17 percent Upstate Suburbs, 17 percent Downstate Suburbs, 12 percent  Upstate Small Cities, eight percent New York City, six percent Big Four Cities, three percent Downstate Small Cities, and two percent Blank. 

Of the 532 respondents; 33 percent self-identified as Teachers; 25 percent as Principals; 18 percent as Other School Administrators (e.g. Guidance Counselor, Director of Special Education, Director or Student Services); 11 percent as Other (e.g. Assistant Principal, Assistant Superintendent); 9 percent as School Superintendents; one percent as Blank; one percent as taxpayer or parent; one percent as Board of Education Member; and less than one percent as Union Representative.

Proposed Regulations:

Respondents were informed that proposed regulations for making up credit may require the following:

 

  • School district officials can provide various programs for students who were previously enrolled in a course but failed to demonstrate mastery of the intended course outcomes.
  • A school-based panel, consisting of the principal, three teachers (not to include the student’s teacher in the course for which the student must make up credit), and one other administrator, must approve all programs for make-up credit. This panel concept already exists in regulation for appeals of Regents Exam grades.
  • In order to provide the correct program to make up failed or incomplete course credit, the panel must consider each student’s needs and course completion deficiencies.
  • The program must be aligned with the Regents learning standards.
  • In order to receive credit, the student must receive equivalent, intensive instruction in the deficiency areas of the course by a teacher certified in the subject area.
  • The student must also demonstrate mastery of the initial deficiency areas (for example, specific skills in math).
  • If an end-of-course Regents examination is required for graduation, the student must also pass the Regents examination to fulfill the graduation requirements, and, to the extent determined by the school district, receive course credit.

 

Summary of Questions and Reponses:

Question A- “Do the proposed provisions provide sufficient opportunity for students to receive credit for making up incomplete or failed course work? If no please explain.” 

Of the 521 respondents (11 responses were N/A), 80 percent selected “Yes” and 19 percent selected “No”. Clearly, a majority of the respondents agreed that the proposed provisions provide sufficient opportunity for students to receive credit for making up incomplete or failed course work. Approximately half of the “No” responses, equating to 10% of the overall responses, expressed concern with the provisions as stated; approximately 4% of the “No” responses listed resource or financial concerns; 3.5% of the “No” respondents opposed the statement in its entirety.   Not all respondents included a written explanation.

Question B- “Can the proposed provisions be implemented? If no please explain.” 

Of the 518 respondents (14 responses were N/A), 69 percent selected “Yes” and 31 percent selected “No”. A majority of the respondents indicated that the proposed provisions could be implemented. A little more than 1/3 of the “No” respondents had resource or financial concerns. Approximately 1/3 of the “No” respondents had concerns with the provisions as stated; less than one percent opposed the statement in its entirety. Not all respondents included a written explanation.

Question C- “Are there any significant challenges for implementing the proposed provisions? If yes please explain.” 

Of the 512 respondents (20 responses were N/A), 62 percent selected “Yes” and 38 percent selected “No”. As noted above, a majority of respondents stated that the proposed provisions could be implemented. However, a majority of respondents indicated through this question that they believe there are significant challenges for implementing the proposed provisions. Over ½ of the “Yes” respondents had resource or financial concerns. Approximately 1/3 of the “Yes” responses stated concerns with the provisions as stated and one percent of respondents opposed the statement in its entirety. Not all respondents included a written explanation.

Question D- “Do the proposed provisions meet the appropriate unique needs of students who did not complete a course or failed to master competencies necessary for success? If no please explain.” 

Of the 516 respondents (16 responses were N/A), 71 percent selected “Yes” and 28 percent selected “No”.  A strong majority agreed that the proposed provisions meet the appropriate unique needs of students who did not complete a course or failed to master competencies necessary for success. Approximately ¾ of the “No” responses stated concerns with the provisions as stated; about ¼ of the “No” respondents opposed the statement in its entirety; and one percent of the “No” respondents had resource or financial concerns. Not all respondents included a written explanation.

Some respondents chose to print the survey attachment and return their responses to SED. Analysis of the less than 10 handwritten responses showed consistency in answers for each of the four questions listed online. Additionally, follow up explanations for each of the questions were also consistent with the online responses.

 

Summary of Respondent Comments

 

Approximately 40% of the respondents submitted written responses concerning the overall survey. A review of the comments fell into overall categories and themes. Approximately ½ of the respondents who provided written comment were supportive of the proposal and approximately ½ of the respondents were critical of the proposal. The following are examples of respondent comments.

Respondents who were supportive of the proposal made the following comments:

 

  • A credit recovery system/program is very much needed as more students are falling through the cracks of the higher Regents expectations.
  • These provisions provide an appropriate and reasonably efficient method for students who have completed the required seat-time and passed the final/Regents exam, but had difficulty in a portion of the course. It will greatly improve students' ability to graduate on-time.
  • What is being proposed would give us more opportunity to offer additional options for students to receive credit for failed courses which, I believe, will help lower our drop-out (non-completion) rate as right now the students get so far behind that they just give up.
  • Allowing a student to make up work and earn course credit is a great idea and will help students be more successful. Ultimately, there will be fewer kids dropping out of high school.
  • I believe it is great that we are recognizing the need for this measure and providing guidance to ensure credit recovery is an actual learning experience. KUDOS!

 

Respondents who were critical of the proposal wrote the following comments:

 

  • Any other attempt to give student course credit aside from repeating a class minimizes instructional time and degrades any attempt to provide serious standards to our students. It also sends the wrong message to other students who strive to achieve what standards we as teachers are trying to set for them later on in the workplace.
  • Deficiency areas will be very difficult to isolate. I hope a recognized on line recovery program will suffice. In large schools time and personnel are a huge issue in recovery programs.
  • For a student to adequately pass a course they must know all of the material. If you only expose the student to part of the material and then ask them to re-take the exam you are not taking into account the "big picture" which is the mastery of the entire course. What if the student did not pass one unit but just passes the others...just getting remediation in the one unit will not prepare the student fully.
  • Further explanation is required as to how this process will help students. As I read it this will only complicate a process that is already working just fine. Please do not implement this as it is currently proposed.
  • I do not agree with credit recovery. Students should repeat the course they fail.

 

A small portion of the written responses included a recurrent theme about funding concerns:

 

  • Aside from the formal school based panel, this sounds like a summer school program. If this is something to be offered during the regular school year, funding will definitely be a problem.
  • I would be interested in knowing how this program would be funded, and when, during the year, it would be implemented.
  • It would be helpful to have state funding for credit recovery programs or a state sponsored online course recovery system in place.
  • Lack of funding interferes with a noteworthy program.
  • More funding is needed in rural districts to even think about this - having the student repeat the course is the only possibility without extra funds

 

Several respondents addressed online learning in New York State:

 

  • Any proposal that does not allow for on-line courses offered and taught by faculty from outside New York State will be an impediment to good credit make up guidelines. If a teacher is certified in the state they teach from they should be recognized by New York for on-line credits.
  • Online programs need more consideration when discussing education in New York State, particularly when looking to meet the unique needs of students

 

Some respondents expressed concerns as to how this new mandate would affect students with disabilities and other populations:

 

  • How do special needs students fit into this mix? What assurances are there that the program will be recognized enough to guarantee students are really learning?

 

A few respondents indicated that the student’s teacher who is teaching the course should be allowed to be a participant on the school-based panel.

 

  • I think that the panel SHOULD include the student's teacher. If a student has failed the course, the teacher would know best where the student's weaknesses fall.

 

Based on field comments, the required membership of the school-based panel was reduced and modified from that included in the draft policy considered by the Regents in April 2009.

Percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.