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Read Christian's Story

Christian is a 19-year-old from El Salvador who was in the 9th grade for the fifth time and whose principal had suggested that he sign himself out of high school.

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Policy & Initiatives

Policy Agenda: Pathways to a Diploma

Policy Agenda: Pathways to a Diploma

Approximately 35 percent of New York City’s high school students fail to graduate within four years. For English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students from low-income backgrounds, graduation rates are even lower. In order to graduate, students must pass five exams: English, Math, Science, Global Studies, and United States History. We believe that schools should have high standards for student achievement to ensure students are prepared for careers and post-secondary education opportunities. However, New York State’s assessment structure is more onerous than other states, and its focus on high-stakes standardized exit exams creates unnecessary barriers to graduation for some students.

We advocate for multiple pathways to high school graduation, including paths that do not rely on high-stakes standardized testing, so that more students can graduate and access college or employment.

►  Reduce the Number of Required Exit Exams:

Reduce the number of exit exams required to graduate with a high school diploma from 5 to 3, in line with other states. The English Regents, one Math Regents, and one Science Regents would still be required for graduation.

►  Develop a Pathway to Graduation Based on Performance-Based Assessment:

In lieu of Regents exams, New York should offer performance-based options, which allow students to demonstrate attainment of standards by completing a series of tasks or projects.

►  Build Flexibility and Support into the Current System:

New York should make its current set of graduation requirements accessible to more students by providing alternative options for assessing students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs; ensuring that appropriate transition planning, accommodations, and supports are provided to students with disabilities and English Language Learners; expanding the Regents exam appeal process; and providing an array of programmatic options and supports for students who have difficulties moving through a given pathway.

►  Communicate and Monitor Multiple Pathways:

Students, families, and schools must receive clear information on all alternative pathways that are available to students to receive a high school diploma. The City and State must collect and report to the public detailed outcomes data, including usage of the specific diplomas and pathways that students have taken to earn a high school diploma, and comparisons of outcomes across multiple student groups.

We also support the recommendations of the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, led by AFC.