Career Focused Test Swap
Today the NY State Board of Regents approved a plan that would allow students to take a test focused on job-skills in lieu of a Social Studies Regents Exam.
Instead of having to pass a math, a science, and two social studies tests, students can opt to take a test in a subject like accounting, carpentry, or culinary arts to fulfill the requirement.
The shift comes after years of debate about how to best prepare high school students for the world after graduation. New York state’s graduation rate is 75 percent, but even many graduates aren’t prepared for college-level coursework and must take remedial classes once they enroll in college. College readiness rates lag especially for black and Hispanic students.
The new pathway for career and technical education programs like automotive repair and nursing, is likely to have the biggest impact, since it may motivate students who have struggled to meet traditional graduation requirements and make it easier for them to earn a diploma.
The Chancellor said that she welcomed the change as part of her vision to expand what’s known as CTE (Career and Technical Education) throughout city schools.
The UFT supports this program, as do many business leaders. IBM already partners with a school in Brooklyn – the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights.
So far, detractors only seem to point out that switching out one test won’t make enough of a difference, in terms of getting NYC students college and career ready. They admit that it’s a good first step, but needs to do more than offer a way out of a test. They want to see an expansion of internships, and partnerships with businesses. Proponents hope that the switch changes what is taught. Since tests often drive instruction (unfortunately), the hope is that replacing a test with a career-skills test would actually make a difference in the instruction leading up to that test.
This change would affect current seniors in high school.
The options could grow, but 13 proposed Career and Technical Education tests now include graphic arts, electronics, carpentry and hospitality management, and the exams would reflect several years of coursework. They are industry-certification tests such as the CompTIA A+, a test created by a consortium of information-technology companies.
Using that technical exam appeals to Nikolay Yunger, a 17- year-old senior in Rochester, N.Y., who has been studying computer networking and repairs at school. He said discovering his knack for this work motivated him in class, boosted his grades and fueled his desire to go to college.
“It really helped me find what I wanted to do in life,” said Mr. Yunger, whose father is a maintenance employee and whose mother works in a factory. “It made me realize school is in my hands.”
Interestingly, this happens right on the heels of the Chancellor announcing her new vision for a new Social Studies Curriculum.
Meryl Tisch, from the Board of Regents, points out that the U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to technical education, and cites evidence that this kind of hands-on education has been shown to motivate students and keep them involved in their own learning.
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