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Policy & Initiatives
Pathways to a Diploma
Pathways to a Diploma
Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) leads a statewide coalition of educational and advocacy organizations and families who have come together to urge the creation of multiple pathways to a diploma in New York State, each of which holds all students to high expectations, provides them with quality instruction, and opens doors to career and post-secondary education opportunities. Members of the Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Coalition believe that measuring college- and career-readiness requires valuing several different and equally valid ways to evaluate students’ knowledge needed for success in the workplace and higher education. The Coalition seeks to maximize opportunities for diverse learners to receive their high school diplomas as well as draw attention to the barriers to graduation created by the focus on high-stakes standardized testing.
The Coalition initially came together in 2007 to demand that the State address excessive use of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) diploma. Students in special education were given the option to earn an IEP diploma, which despite its name, is not a valid high school diploma and is not accepted by colleges, universities or the military. Some school districts were using the IEP diploma to push students with disabilities out of school prematurely. After a series of conversations between Coalition members, individual members of the Board of Regents and officials at the New York State Education Department, the State has eliminated the IEP diploma, effective July 1, 2013.
In January 2011, the State announced its intention to revisit New York’s graduation requirements, and the Coalition decided to focus on graduation requirements and diploma options more broadly. At that time, the Coalition’s membership began to expand. Currently, the Coalition is comprised of more than 55 advocacy organizations, educators, and families across New York State, representing a broad cross-section of students, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELLs), and economically disadvantaged students. Click here to read more about the Coalition’s mission and core principles.
The Coalition Issues a CALL TO ACTION for the Creation of Diploma Pathways that Meet the Needs of the Diversity of Students in New York State
In August 2013, the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma released a Call to Action fact sheet that provides statistics regarding the loss to students’ future earnings and the costs to society when students are unable to earn a high school degree. Click here to read the CALL TO ACTION and see the stats.
The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Identifies Evidence of Potential Barriers to CTE Instruction for Students with Disabilities and English Language learners (ELLs)
In January 2013 and again in March 2013, the Coalition presented evidence to the Board of Regents and The New York State Education Department – New York State Career and Technical Education (CTE) Assessment Review Panel, of the potential barriers to CTE instruction for students with disabilities and English Language learners (ELLs). The Coalition believes that work-based learning and career and technical education can be a more effective way to keep students engaged in school and provide pathways to a diploma and higher education and/or a career. In particular, CTE instruction offers significant benefits to students with disabilities and ELLs. However, many barriers continue to prevent these students from accessing rigorous, high-quality CTE programs in NYS and elsewhere. The Coalition provided the Panel with recommendations for creating CTE programs that will benefit ALL students. Click here to view the recommendations.
Coalition Supports New York State Senate Bill 7331 and New York State Assembly Bill 10367 to Extend the Availability of the Local Diploma
In June 2012, the Coalition issued a memorandum in support for Senate Bill 7331, introduced by Senator Flanagan, and Assembly Bill 10367, introduced by Assemblyman Magnarelli, which would make the local diploma available to all students entering the ninth grade prior to the 2013-2014 school year and require the State Education Department to hold public hearings on creating multiple pathways to a high school diploma. The memo is available here, and the bills can be seen here.
Coalition Issues a Call to Action to Keep the Local Diploma for All Students Until Real Alternatives Exist
In May 2012, the Coalition issued a Call to Action and initiated an online petition, asking New Yorkers to voice their concerns about eliminating the local diploma for general education students before new pathways to a diploma exist.
Coalition Issues Impact Statement about the Elimination of the Local Diploma
In March 2012, the Coalition released a statement that estimated as many as 14,000 general education students still rely on the local diploma to graduate and are, therefore, not likely to graduate in June. Students of color and English Language Learners will be disproportionally affected.
Coalition Issues Its Preliminary Recommendations for Creating Multiple Pathways to a Diploma
On January 17, 2012, the Coalition released its recommendations for creating additional pathways to a diploma and sent them to the Board of Regents and the State Education Department. The preliminary recommendations are available here and the letter to Commissioner John King that accompanied the recommendations is available here.
Coalition Asks that New York Retain the Local Diploma Until it Develops Alternatives
Members of the Coalition wrote to the Board of Regents and the State Education Department to ask that the local diploma be retained until alternative pathways to graduation are established. The March 2011 letter to then-Senior Deputy Commissioner John King can be found here.
Coalition Broadens Its Focus and Develops Its Platform
In January 2011, the State announced its intention to revisit New York’s graduation requirements, and the Coalition decided to focus on graduation requirements and diploma options more broadly. The Coalition also grew in membership at this time and developed a platform which can be viewed here. The Coalition is still accepting new members and is always developing its ideas for potential pathways that it plans to recommend to the State.
AFC Warns that Eliminating the Local Diploma Will Limit Opportunities for Young People
In October 2010, AFC released a report, "More than a Statistic: Faces of the Local Diploma," which profiles young people who graduated with a local diploma and used it to access post-secondary opportunities. The paper calls for the development of alternative pathways to graduation.
AFC Calls for Reform of the IEP Diploma
In 2007, AFC sent a letter to the State Education Department demanding reform of the IEP diploma because its misuse contributes to students with disabilities leaving school without graduating. A diverse roster of organizations and individuals joined AFC in making these demands. To read the press release, click here, and the letter can be found here.
Public Comments & Testimony
The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Submits Public Comment on the Regents Research Paper Proposal, October 31, 2013. The Coalition submitted comments to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) in response to a proposal to require high school students to complete a Regents Research Paper in order to graduate with a Regents or local diploma.........View comments
The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma submitted a proposed amendment on June 7, 2013, to the regulations of the commissioner of Education relating to a New York State Career Development and Occupation Studies Commencement Credentials for students with disabilities…...View proposal
The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma filed comments on February 11, 2013 to the New York Department of Education regarding their opposition to the proposed Regents Certificate of Work Readiness (the Certificate). The Coalition believes that limiting the Certificate to students with disabilities runs counter to the goal of increasing access for these students to college and careers and discriminates against these students....View comments
The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma submitted comments on November 30, 2012 regarding the revised amendment: Safety net for Students with Disabilities. The Coalition agrees the revised proposed amendments to Section 100.5 rightfully recognize that students have different modes of learning and offer flexibility for some students who have difficulties with certain exams. However, its filing it comments in opposition because a safety net with a compensatory model does not go far enough to establish meaningful alternatives for students who cannot adequately demonstrate their knowledge and skills on standardized tests, but can show proficiency through other rigorous forms of assessment……View comments