The New York State Board of Regents approved an emergency measure which provides eligible students with disabilities an additional opportunity to earn local diplomas.  The option, referred to as the Superintendent Determination Amendment, went into effect Jan. 1, 2018.  Students who have current Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and who earn the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential may be eligible.

The amendment follows the initial Superintendent Determination which went into effect June 2016. Both this offering and the more recent amendment allow for students with IEPs, who cannot earn local diplomas using the State-approved Safety Net offerings, with additional options.  Students utilizing the Safety Net take Regents examinations but the passing score per test is lower than what is required to earn Regents diplomas. Both local and Regents diplomas are recognized by the State of New York Board of Regents.

The Safety Net and both Superintendent Determination offerings require that students earn 22 credits and pass all of their classes, take required Regents examinations (and/or appropriate assessments for those exercising Multiple Pathway options), and satisfy any district-level graduation requirements.  While some students with 504 plans as well as students with IEPs may earn local diplomas using Safety Net options, only students with IEPs may be eligible for the Superintendent Determination or Amendment.

According to a memo, Superintendent Determination of Graduation with a Local Diploma – UPDATED, (click here to view) issued by the State Education Department (SED) in February 2017: “…there are some students who, because of their disabilities, are unable to demonstrate their proficiency on standard State assessments, even with testing accommodations.  For these students, there is the superintendent determination option for eligible students to graduate with a local diploma.”

The initial offering allows for a student who scores at least 55 on math and 55 on ELA Regents examinations (or 52-54 on one or both if the scores are successfully appealed at the district level) to be awarded a local diploma, even if one or more of the remaining Regents examinations is below 55.  Superintendents have been charged with the responsibility of determining whether or not students satisfy the requirements to earn diplomas.  This review process must be initiated in writing by a parent or guardian.  The superintendent must be provided with evidence in the form of quizzes, tests, homework assignments, projects, etc., in order to verify that students mastered learning standards for courses connected with the Regents exams where minimum scores were not achieved.

The recently approved amendment paves the way for students who meet the requirements for the CDOS Commencement Credential, but do not earn at least a 55 on their math and ELA Regents examinations (or as low as a 52 if appealed), to be awarded local diplomas. Students who participate in programming and opportunities connected with the CDOS Commencement Credential are required to engage in various work-readiness activities.  The goal is to encourage students to explore career paths and to have an authentic understanding of the world of work before exiting high school.

Requirements for the CDOS Commencement Credential include the completion of career plans, which must be updated annually; mastery of New York State CDOS Learning Standards 1, 2, and 3a; the completion of an employability profile; and at least 216 hours of work-based learning activities, which may include career and technical education (CTE) coursework.

The recently released emergency measure, however, includes a provision which is in effect through June 30, 2019.  For those students who would otherwise be eligible for the Superintendent Determination Amendment, the principal, with input from relevant faculty members, may award a CDOS Commencement Credential to students who have not satisfied all the requirements but who can demonstrate work-based learning skills.

Although the amendment is currently available to students, the measure cannot be permanently adopted until a 45-day public comment period concludes.  It is anticipated it will be made a permanent rule at the Regents’ meeting in March 2018.

For more information about the Superintendent Determination and Amendment, check out the March 2018 School Tools.