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| January 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010 - 9:50am

TO:

EMSC/VESID Committee

FROM:

John King

Rebecca H. Cort 

SUBJECT:

Proposed Framework for New York State High School Exiting Credential

DATE:

December 23, 2009

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 & 2

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

Summary

 

Issue for Discussion

 

              Do the Regents support development of a high school exiting credential that documents a student’s level of achievement in academic and career skills? 

Reasons for Consideration

In June 2009, the VESID Committee supported the Department’s recommendation to pursue the development of an exiting credential that specifically documents a student’s academic and career skills.  Based on public comment, it was strongly recommended that this credential not only replace the individualized education program (IEP) diploma for students with disabilities but also be considered as an option for all students. 

Background Information

              In July 2008, the VESID Committee of the Board of Regents discussed concerns raised by parents, student advocacy organizations, and members of the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel (CAP) for Special Education Services and others relating to the IEP diploma.  In response to these issues, the Committee directed VESID to seek public comment on policy considerations regarding the IEP diploma. Extensive public comment was obtained. In addition to obtaining written comment, VESID staff conducted several public discussions, facilitated conversations with specific constituency groups and arranged for a regional meeting of the VESID Committee of the Board of Regents on this topic. There was broad support for the Department to develop an exiting credential that specifically documents a student’s academic and career skills.  It was strongly recommended that this credential not only replace the IEP diploma for students with disabilities but also be considered as an option for all students.

         

In June 2009, the VESID Committee supported the Department’s recommendation to pursue the development of such a credential. Following the Regents meeting, a workgroup was established, which included staff from VESID’s Office of Special Education and EMSC’s Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support/Career and Technical Education.  This workgroup developed the proposed policy framework in review of public comment detailing suggested components of such a credential, other state and national exiting credentials, and existing New York State (NYS) requirements.

 

PROPOSED POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR THE NEW CERTIFICATE

              It is proposed that the Board of Regents establish a new Certificate that would document a student’s level of achievement towards the State learning standards, with specific information in the areas of career development, integrated learning and universal foundation skills.  The proposed Certificate would not be considered a high school diploma in accordance with State standards or for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) accountability purposes, but would provide a Certificate denoting a student's attained skills as measured in relation to the NYS Learning Standards, including the State's Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Learning Standards.  The proposed framework would be designed to incorporate, and not duplicate, existing requirements relating to Career Plans, Transition Planning and Services and Student Exit Summaries.

Purpose:

              The purpose of the proposed policy is to provide an exiting credential that documents the student’s level of achievement in skill and knowledge areas that are essential to success in post-school living, learning and working.  The proposed Certificate would be aligned with the Secretaries’ Commission on Achieving the Necessary Skills (SCANS) and with the Department’s Learning Standards, including the CDOS Learning Standards, and the State's policy on Career Plans and transition planning for students with disabilities.  This policy aligns and supports Student Priority Three of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Discussion Framework in regards to providing all students with the opportunity to secure an additional credential that will document their achievements and attained goals for the purposes of attaining employment or pursuing higher education.

              With this proposed Certificate, each student who meets the Certificate eligibility criteria would exit school with a Certificate that denotes the student’s successful achievement towards the learning standards in the areas of career development, integrated learning and universal foundation skills and include documentation of the level of each student’s achievement, in accordance with criteria established by the Commissioner for such determinations. 

In December 2009, individuals representing a variety of constituencies were invited to participate in small group discussions in which they provided preliminary reaction to the proposed credential. These individuals included parents, school administrators, general and special education teachers, and individuals with expertise in transition planning and services for students with disabilities and work based learning as well as representatives from the NYS Department of Labor, NYS Rehabilitation Association, student advocacy groups and teachers unions. The discussions were rich and informative. While there was strong support for the proposed credential, several changes have already been made to the proposed credential based on their preliminary reactions. A number of other suggestions and considerations emerging from these discussions will be revisited as this policy evolves.

Goals:

The proposed policy is designed to:

 

  • Provide an incentive to prevent students from dropping out of school and to continue to work towards a regular diploma.

 

  • Promote the development of instructional programs that recognize the value of applied learning as well as the universal foundation, integrated learning and career development skills essential to successful achievement in post secondary education and employment.

 

  • Provide meaningful documentation of skill based achievement in preparation for employment or post-secondary training or education that will be recognized by colleges, work related training programs and employers.

 

  • Provide an incentive for students who are over-age and under-credited to continue to participate in credit completion.

 

  • Promote student participation in work-based learning experience and service programs.

 

  • Promote well thought out individualized planning (among students, parents, teachers and school counselors) early in a student's high school experience that will provide focus, direction, attainment of goals, and ultimate success in the work place and/or in higher education and facilitate post-secondary training linkages upon the student's exit from secondary education including:
    • use of the Career Plan to assist students in assessing their interests, skills and aptitudes, explore career options and plan for their future; and
    • appropriate transition planning for students with disabilities. 

 

With the support of the Board of Regents, we propose to develop a policy framework to address the following questions. 

 

  • What should the proposed Certificate be known as?
  • What records would be required to be maintained for a student awarded the Certificate?
  • Which students would be awarded the Certificate?
  • What instructional and work-readiness experiences would lead to the award of the Certificate?
  • What safeguards would be part of the proposed policy framework to ensure that each student has had maximum appropriate opportunities to earn a regular diploma prior to the award of the Certificate?
  • When should the proposed Certificate be available?

 

For discussion purposes, following are preliminary recommendations to address the above questions.

 

  • What should the proposed Certificate be known as?

 

One recommendation is that the credential be called a Certificate of Attained Skills and Experiences (CASE).  Every student would be able to develop his own CASE depending on his/her individual career plan and profile to reflect his or her interests, goals, and motivations that will generate increased relevancy, rigor, and relationships to every student's secondary education.  The Certificate would be awarded using a template developed by the Commissioner that includes a clear annotation on the front of the Certificate to indicate:

 

  • that the Certificate is awarded to the student on the basis of the student’s successful achievement towards the learning standards in the areas of career development, integrated learning and universal foundation skills, and

 

  • the level of the student’s achievement using terms such as entry,  intermediate or advanced, in accordance with criteria established by the Commissioner for such determinations. 

 

  • What records would be required to be maintained for a student awarded the Certificate?

 

For each student to be awarded the Certificate, the district would be required to maintain the following:

 

  • A written record of the student's Career Plan and, for each student with a disability, documentation of provision of a coordinated set of transition activities pursuant to the student’s IEP; and

 

  • Documentation of each such student’s attained skills (Profile of Attained Skills (PAS)), on a form prescribed by the Commissioner and the record of data upon which each student’s progress and performance as documented on the Profile of Attained Skills was based to evaluate the student’s level of achievement toward the State's learning standards, including but not limited to the student's level of achievement in the CDOS 1, 2 and 3a in the areas of career development, integrated learning and universal foundation SCANS.  Each Board of Education (BOE) would be required to provide each student who earns the Certificate to be given a copy of his/her PAS, signed by the school superintendent or his/her designee. 

 

3.      Which students would be awarded the Certificate?

 

Under the proposed framework, a student would be awarded the Certificate which documents his/her individual level of achievement as noted above provided that there is a written record of the student’s Career Plan and/or, for each student with a disability documentation of the provision of a coordinated set of transition activities pursuant to the student’s IEP; and documentation of the student’s attained skills (PAS); and the student meets one of the following eligibility criteria:

 

  • The student exits school upon the earning of a regular NYS diploma or attends a minimum of 12 years, excluding Kindergarten of which at least four years were at the high school level.

 

  • The student is a student with a disability who is assessed against the State’s alternate achievement standards and attends school at least 12 years, excluding Kindergarten.

 

  • What instructional and work-readiness experiences would lead to award of the Certificate?

 

Each student's level of achievement toward this Certificate would be based, in part, on his or her participation in one or more of the following, as reflected in the student’s Career Plan and/or transition plan:

  • CTE that shall prepare students for both employment and postsecondary education;
  • district-approved service learning experiences at the secondary level; and/or
  • supervised work-based learning experience program(s) such as: career-based work program vocational exploration and or assessment experiences; career-based vocational training programs and cooperative work experiences.

 

  • What safeguards would be part of the proposed policy framework to ensure that each student has had maximum appropriate opportunities to earn a regular diploma prior to the award of the Certificate?

 

Each BOE would be required to have written policies and procedures ensuring that:

  • all students, including students with disabilities, are provided appropriate opportunities to participate and progress in the coursework necessary to earn a regular high school diploma; and
  • written notice is provided to the parent of a student with a disability if the student is less than 21 years of age and has not earned a regular diploma that the student to be awarded the Certificate shall continue to be eligible to attend the public schools of the school district in which the student resides without the payment of tuition until the student has earned a regular high school diploma or until the end of the school year of such student’s 21st birthday, whichever is earlier.

 

  • When would the proposed Certificate be available?

 

Recognizing that the proposed policy requires substantial detail and a period of time for school districts to adjust its instructional programs, it is proposed that a period of approximately five years be established to phase out the IEP diploma and phase in the Certificate.  If a five year phase-in period were established, the Certificate would first be available on a mandatory basis to eligible students who exit school on or after June 2015 but could be available earlier for those districts which are able to meet all the requirements for issuing the Certificate.  The IEP diploma would no longer be available for students entering grade 9 on or after September 2011.

 

Recommendations and Next Steps:

With support of the Committee, we recommend the following activities as we move forward with this proposed alternative credential.

 

  • Conduct public discussion sessions to obtain feedback on the proposed framework, including discussion of a proposed time table for implementation.

 

  • Propose regulations to incorporate the proposed framework, followed by additional public comment sessions.

 

  • Establish an external stakeholder workgroup(s) to assist  VESID and EMSC staff in:
  • developing the PAS and the State template for the credential;
  • identifying statements and conditions that a student must achieve in order to earn designated levels of achievement for each of the standard areas (career, integrated learning and universal foundation skills);
  • establishing the rubrics to be used as the assessment tool that describe levels of student achievement;
  • establishing written guidelines to accompany the new credential; and
  • providing professional development and information sessions to assist the field with implementation.

 

Timetable for Implementation

              Based upon the Committee’s recommendations, the Department will proceed with the development of the credential and return to the Committee in May 2010 for further discussion.