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Pilot program proposes using performance-based assessments instead of Regents exams

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The New York State Department of Education is launching a pilot program to study new ways to change high school diploma requirements including using performance-based assessments instead of Regents examinations. 

Details of the pilot program will be worked out over the next year by expert guidance, but officials hope that middle schools, high schools, and even some BOCES will choose to set up pilot sites in different parts of the state and that participating schools will learn from schools already using performance-based assessments  in order to “facilitate sustainable changes in school culture.” 

The goal of reimaging high school diploma requirements, officials said, is to boost graduation rates across the state particularly and better prepare students for college and future careers. 

“Too many of New York’s students – particularly our most vulnerable – are leaving high school without a diploma,” said NYSED Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “This important research will be critical in exploring the ways in which students can best demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school and be successful in life.”

To support the pilot, the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded the state education department $500,000 to help supplement research work related to the Department’s Graduation Measures Review initiative. Board of Regents members will vote on whether to accept the grant which has a funding period of two and a half years. 

“We are pleased to support the Board of Regents in this effort to better understand the value of the assessments that our students undergo and the impact these programs have on what is taught in a classroom and how it is presented,” said Vice President of Carnegie Corporation of New York’s National Program LaVerne Evans Srinivasan.

“In addition to the more traditional performance measures and graduation requirements that emphasize time spent on instruction, there is room for more authentic measurements of what students know and can do, including approaches that focus on project-based instruction and the cultivation of true competency.”

The Board of Regents and State Education Department committed “to a thoughtful and inclusive review of the State high school graduation measures” in February of 2019 with the goal of  “reaffirm what it means to obtain a diploma in New York State.” 

“All students must graduate from high school ready for college, career and civic engagement in order to be successful in life,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “We are at a critical moment of possibility and we must work to ensure that all NYS students have access to the opportunities necessary for deeper and more meaningful learning in school. This will require that our state assessment strategy provide information on deeper and more meaningful learning. The Board of Regents thanks the Carnegie Corporation of New York for this significant grant.”

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