NYSED Unveils Vision for Equitable Education: A Comprehensive Plan for Transformation 

NYSED Unveils Vision for Equitable Education: A Comprehensive Plan for Transformation | Future Education Magazine


The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has revealed a transformative vision to implement the recommendations of the NYS Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures. This initiative aims to foster greater equity within the state’s education system, as announced by Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. The recommendations focus on ensuring that all public school students in New York receive the necessary educational opportunities and support to thrive academically and beyond.

Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. emphasized the overarching goal of the initiative, stating, “Our work is about raising the bar for all. True equity and excellence in education are achievable if we provide all students with meaningful educational opportunities and multiple avenues to demonstrate their mastery of the State’s rigorous learning standards. Our role is to prepare students for continuous learning, fulfilling careers, and informed civic engagement. Let’s equip them with the tools they need and then watch them succeed on their pathways to success.”

Commissioner Rosa highlighted the collaborative efforts behind the vision, saying, “The bold vision we present today is the result of countless hours of collaborative work from a diverse group of expert practitioners and the public. This educational transformation reflects the thoughtful input we received from stakeholders, especially public school students and their families. Transforming an education system requires immense time, effort, and collaboration, and we are committed to achieving this for all New Yorkers.”

Strategic Transformations for Graduation Measures

In 2019, the New York State Board of Regents and Education Department initiated the Graduation Measures Initiative to redefine what a New York State diploma signifies, ensuring excellence and equity for all students. This initiative aligns with the Regents’ and Department’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is strongly rooted in the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. The primary goals are to create true equity in the state’s public education system and ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in school and beyond. In November 2023, the Blue Ribbon Commission presented its recommendations, which have now been adopted by NYSED.

At the recent Board of Regents meeting, NYSED staff outlined their vision for implementing these recommendations, focusing on four key transformative actions:

1. Adopting the New York State Portrait of a Graduate

The Portrait of a Graduate aims to create a shared understanding of the skills and knowledge New York State public school graduates should master. To earn a high school diploma, students must demonstrate proficiency in each component of the Portrait, which includes critical thinking, innovative problem-solving, literacy across all content areas, cultural competence, social-emotional competence, effective communication, and global citizenship.

2. Redefining Credits

NYSED proposes shifting from a time-based unit system to one focused on proficiency. This allows students to demonstrate mastery in various ways, such as work-based learning, dual credit programs, earning state seals or credentials, traditional coursework, approved Career and Technical Education programs, participation in the arts, and passing approved assessments, including Regents exams. This flexible approach supports all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners, enabling them to showcase their strengths and abilities in diverse ways.

3. Sunsetting Diploma Assessment Requirements

NYSED recommends decoupling specific assessment requirements from graduation criteria. This means students will no longer need to pass Regents exams or a +1 Pathway Assessment to graduate. Instead, Regents Examinations will be one of several measures to demonstrate proficiency in meeting state learning standards. Students will continue to be assessed through multiple measures at the local level while taking state-level assessments required by federal law to track statewide progress.

4. Moving to One Diploma

The Department advocates for a unified diploma system for all New York State public school graduates. Under this plan, districts would confer diplomas to all students meeting state requirements, eliminating the local diploma and transforming the “advanced designation” diploma into a seal or endorsement. Districts would also be authorized to add additional seals and endorsements.

Next Steps and Community Engagement

In an ongoing effort to refine New York’s education system, NYSED will host a series of Blue Ribbon Commission “Ambassador Forums” between July and October 2024. These forums will allow the public to provide feedback on the proposed transformations.

The Department’s implementation plan will be presented to the Board of Regents in November 2024, detailing projected timelines, affected regulations, and other considerations. Approval from the Board of Regents is necessary for any changes to the state’s graduation requirements. Until then, existing graduation requirements remain in effect for all public school students in New York.

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