Recent education reforms recognize the vital role career and technical education plays in engaging students’ interests in rigorous academic programming while offering them a competitive advantage and rewarding future.
In January 2015, the New York State Board of Regents approved regulations allowing students statewide to graduate with a specialized diploma in career and technology education, among other areas of study.
Previously, students had to take five Regents exams to graduate. Now, school districts may offer a “4+1” graduation option where students take four Regents exams (English Language Arts, math, science and social studies), and then choose from either a second social studies, science or math Regents exam, or a comparably rigorous technical or other state-approved assessment. This assessment could be in one of the following areas: CTE, the arts, humanities, biliteracy (languages other than English), or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
The multiple pathways to graduation are not easier options — students must still meet the state’s learning standards and still earn 22 high school credits while also mastering a skill set that makes them employable or better prepared for college.
The new approach presents opportunities to tap into students’ career interests and to answer calls from employers to better prepare students to work successfully in a complex global marketplace.
The state has established criteria to ensure the assessments are vigorous, valid and reliable. There is currently a list of 13 state-approved CTE exams considered to be of equal or greater rigor to Regents exams that can be used to meet the CTE pathway requirement and the list is expected to grow over time.