New York proposes two new types of high school diplomas

by Grace

The New York State Board of Regents will soon vote on an initiative that would create two new types of high school diploma, thereby offering more options for different types of students.  One diploma would focus on STEM studies and the other would teach technical vocational skills.

The STEM diploma would include an advanced calculus course or extra science course for an advanced degree in technology. The CTE diploma would have students participate in specialized training programs, which could replace an elective or core course.

Some possible CTE substitutions for students to learn technical skills include a Federal Aviation Administration certification, a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician certification or a National Occupational Competency Testing Institute Job Ready Assessment, Schumer said.

The editorial board supports this initiative, citing the unwillingness of domestic employers to pay for such training.

Sunday’s “60 Minutes” report on the skills gap — three days later Schumer followed with his own related proposal to the state Board of Regents — noted that many U.S. manufacturers, competing with cheap labor the world over, no longer are willing to pay to train new workers for high-skill jobs; they expect school districts, community colleges, four-year colleges and other taxpayer-supported institutions to pick up all or some of the cost.

If approved, the new diploma programs may be in place as early as next school year.

This proposal appears to be a move away from the state’s recent emphasis on a single path for all students, an idea that was associated with the recent elimination of the less rigorous “local diploma”.  Now there’s recognition that “one size doe not fit all”.

“The Regents understand that one size does not fit all students. Too many of our students are forced onto a single graduation pathway,” Tompkins said. “Their skills and potential are stifled and they end up unprepared for success in adult life.”

Changes are needed for graduates to meet 21st century job requirements.

Schumer said his support follows employers’ accounts of gaps between available positions and skilled applicants. Industrial Support Inc. in Buffalo, for example, often has trouble filling job openings for machinists and welders, skills found along the CTE pathway, he said.

The state Labor Department, meanwhile, projected a 135 percent increase in STEM-related computer and electronic product manufacturing jobs in the Albany area from 2008 to 2018, anticipating the addition of 1,800 positions.

“As upstate New York’s economy switches gears towards the advanced industries of the 21st century, we need our students and education system to keep pace,” Schumer said.

CTE and STEM students would be exempt from taking the “notoriously difficult” global history Regents exam.

The state Education Department has proposed requiring a CTE assessment in place of a global history exam that’s required for students pursuing a traditional diploma. Those on the STEM track would substitute a second math or science assessment for the global history exam.

Students still would be required to pass a course in global history and to pass English, math, science and U.S. history exams.



2 Comments to “New York proposes two new types of high school diplomas”

  1. There’s conflicting reports, but the last story I linked to made it sound as if Schumer had not proposed it, just that he supported it. Given his penchant for grabbing headlines and making any news more about him, I tend to believe Schumer did not initially propose it.

    He has written to Education Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to support plans to create two alternative high school diplomas, one focused on science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as STEM, and the other on career and technology education, or CTE.

    The state Board of Regents commissioned a study this year to examine CTE graduation options. The report is expected shortly, and the Regents plan to vote on the two diploma routes early next year, said Dennis Tompkins, spokesman for the state Education Department.


  2. Because of that provision of allowing STEM students to skip Global History Regents, I think the STEM option might actually be more of a vocational path. In any case, I see your point about the folly of dumbing down the curriculum for potential college STEM students.

    Considering the two points you raised in your comments, I suspect there’s some missing details about what this proposal actually is.


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