N.Y. Education Department hints at big changes to graduation requirements

N.Y. Education Department hints at big changes to graduation requirements

ALBANY — The state Education Department is embracing the idea of new graduation requirements and plans to release a vision for what it is hinting will be big changes next month.

“Rethinking and modernizing education in New York state is not an easy task,” Deputy Commissioner Jason Harmon told the Board of Regents at Monday’s meeting. “We want to make sure we get this right.”

On June 10, Harmon and other education department officials will explain how they plan to implement wide-ranging changes proposed last year by a Regents’ appointed Blue Ribbon Commission. The commission’s recommendations — released last November — were to stop requiring Regents exams for graduation, change the list of required classes in high school and add more real-world experience like internships or work skills like public speaking. “We know there are some very high expectations,” Harmon said. “Our stakeholders are expecting significant change.” And the state will bring that change, he said — but they need more time.

“This is a complex process,” he said. For example, the commission proposed that students prove their mastery of required skills and knowledge in a variety of ways, rather than just a final exam. For a paper or project alternative to an exam, the Education Department must set a list of requirements that the student must meet. Grading must be uniform and people must be available to do the grading. Ensuring the student didn’t cheat while doing work at home could become a big issue. The department is holding weekly meetings to figure out how to roll out the changes, Harmon said. “Ultimately, over the past several months, the internal team at the department has worked feverishly to figure out ways to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission,” he said.

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