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Meeting of the Board of Regents | June 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 9:35am

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The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


John B. King, Jr.


Invitation for New York to be a Governing State in the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems  


June 11, 2010 







Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)

Should the Board of Regents accept the invitation for New York to be a Governing State in the State Consortium on Board Examinations Systems’ application for the Race to the Top High School Course Assessment Programs grant competition? 

Proposed Handling

This question will come before the full board at its June 2010 meeting where it will be voted on and action taken.

Background Information

The Race to the Top High School Course Assessment Programs grant will provide consortia of states with an unprecedented opportunity to develop assessment programs that cover multiple high school courses to ensure that students are college- and career-ready upon high school graduation.  The assessments will measure student knowledge and skills against college- and career-ready standards, including the Common Core Standards in English language arts and math.  Applications for this grant competition are due on June 23, 2010.  The U.S. Department of Education (“USED”) anticipates making one award of $30 million. 

New York has been invited to participate in this competition as a Governing State in the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems (“Consortium”).  The Consortium was initiated by the National Center on Education and the Economy (“NCEE”) and currently consists of 12 members—including all the New England states and Pennsylvania as well as a handful of southern and western states—that have signed memoranda of agreement to work together to pilot a board examination system modeled on those used in many top-performing nations around the world.  Because of the very short timelines for submitting an application for the federal competition, New York executed a memorandum of agreement to participate in the consortium, but New York can opt out of the consortium at any time.  We now seek a formal commitment by the Board of Regents to join in the Board Examination Consortium’s application to the USED and to agree that New York will use its best efforts to pilot board examination systems in at least 10 high schools (student participation within those schools would be entirely on a voluntary basis).  

As NCEE President Marc Tucker outlined at the April meeting of the College and Career Readiness Work Group, the Consortium’s goal is to greatly increase the proportion of high school students who leave high school ready to do college work without remediation, by adopting board examination systems based on international best practices.  These systems include not only world-class assessments administered at the secondary level, but also related curricula and syllabi and professional development for teachers who will teach the courses.  The Consortium plans to use a competitive process to select at least three board examination systems that include courses in English, math, science, and history and are aligned to the Common Core standards for administration at the end of the sophomore year of high school; these could include New York State Regents Examinations. Participating students would prepare for and take lower division board examinations at the end of 10th grade.  A student who is successful on the lower division examinations would be awarded a performance-based high school diploma, and would be eligible either to enroll in credit-bearing courses in 2-year and 4-year public open admissions postsecondary institutions without remediation, or to stay in high school and take upper division examinations at the end of the senior year that would evidence readiness for a broader range of post-secondary education or career alternatives.  A student who does not succeed on the lower division board examinations would remain in high school and receive differentiated instruction to address his or her academic weaknesses. 

Currently, the Consortium’s model calls for offering a “performance-based high school diploma” upon successful completion of the lower division examination, which could be as early as the end of 10th grade.  In contrast, in New York State’s existing early college high schools, students typically take college courses but remain enrolled in high school.  As the work of the Consortium proceeds and the Consortium further defines its expectations around the awarding of the diploma, the Board of Regents may need to consider amending its regulations that define a “four year high school course of study” and that establish high school diploma requirements, and additionally may need to seek amendment to relevant education statutes.  (One of the other Consortium member states recently amended its statutes to address similar issues.)  If the Board of Regents determines that it cannot or does not wish to create the performance-based diploma or proceed with implementation of the board examination system, New York may opt out of the Consortium at any time.

Ten of the member states, including New York, would receive funding for the pilot program from the USED High School Course Assessment grant and from an Investing in Innovation (or “i3”) grant for which NCEE has applied, if those grant applications are successful.  New York’s pilot program would begin with identification of participating schools and 10th grade student volunteers in September 2011, and a first administration of the lower division examination at the end of the 2011-12 school year.  The bulk of the funding is slated to go toward training teachers and purchasing instructional materials and exams for the pilot schools, with extra resources for 4 high-need pilot schools in each state.  The pilot program will be evaluated to compare student outcomes across participating schools and control schools, and if it produces statistically significant academic gains for participating students, New York would make the program “reasonably available” statewide to students who want to participate, no later than 4 years after the pilot program has begun.



It is recommended that the Board of Regents accept the invitation for New York to be a Governing State in the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems.