TO:                                         EMSC-VESID Committee

 

FROM:                                   James A. Kadamus

 

SUBJECT:                           Proposal on Graduation Standard

 

DATE:                                    April 11, 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 24-month calendar has a decision on the graduation standard scheduled in June 2005.  However, the Regents EMSC-VESID Committee may decide to expedite approval of the proposal.

 

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 has been developed for discussion in April that also incorporates modifications suggested by Committee members at the March 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 2005-06.  Under that proposal, students entering grade 9 in 2007 would be required to pass the five exams with a score of 65.  The attached revised proposal eliminates averaging of the scores on the Regents exams.  Instead, it specifies how many of the five required exams students must score 65 or above.  Justification for this change is presented in Attachment A, which shows minimal difference between averaging and requiring a score of 65 on a certain number of exams.  This new proposal would also make it easier for districts to determine a student's diploma status.

 

            The following trends in student performance underlie the proposal on the graduation standard and we believe these trends will continue into the future:

 

1.                  The number of students performing at Level 1 on the grade 8 assessments in high need districts has been declining since 2000.  This means that more students will be better prepared for high school and likely to be more successful at scoring 65 on required Regents exams.

2.                  Math has historically been the single most difficult Regents exam in high need districts.  There has been substantial improvement in math over the past few years, especially in high need districts.  We expect that performance to continue to improve under the new  math standards because they make it clear what the expectations should be at all grade levels.

3.                  Performance on Regents exams in high need districts has improved in most subjects in the last few years and we expect that trend to continue as curriculum and instructional changes are fully implemented.

 

            The new proposal includes the following revisions requested by the Committee in March:

 

        The addition of a statement that indicates students will have unlimited opportunities to retake the required Regents exams to improve their scores; and

        The addition of a statement concerning the Regents intent to continue the safety net and low-pass option for students with disabilities.

 

The new proposal also includes the details concerning the appeals process as outlined in the January and February Regents material.  However, a provision has been added that students may be considered for an appeal on only two of the five required Regents exams.  It also clarifies the diploma status for students that are successful in the appeals process.

 

Recommendation

 

            The Regents EMSC-VESID Committee should consider the new proposal and determine the next steps for taking action.

 

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.

 

 

Attachments


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.

 

Based on these data, we propose the following to implement higher graduation standards:

 

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

           

 

 

 

During the first two cohorts of the phase-in (2005 and 2006), 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 or teacher on his/her behalf.  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 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.

 

 


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