A diploma is needed for city students to finish high school, and the state Board of Regents is looking at giving students several options for how to do that. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
It is a right of passage. To graduate from high school in New York State, students need to pass five specific exams. But that might change.
On Monday, the state Board of Regents decided to move forward with a plan to offer three of what it calls "pathways" to graduation.
"We have been criticized for this 'one size fits all,'" said Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch.
Students would be able to choose whether to pass the traditional five exams — in English, math, science, U.S. history and global history — or to focus more on either science and math or career and technical skills. Students who choose the two new options would not have to pass the global history exam.
Of the five required exams, global history has been the toughest, with just 56 percent of city students passing it last year.
For years, the Regents have been saying they want to raise the bar for a high school diploma. But some are worried that by proposing the most difficult exam become optional, they are watering down the requirements.
The Regents denied that is their intention.
"This is not in any sense about creating a simpler pathway, it's the question of an alternate approach. And this is the old argument, that maybe one size doesn't fit all. Maybe we ought to create a bit more flexibility," said James Tallon of the Board of Regents.
The chancellor said the reason students struggle with the global exam is that it is a two-year course with one comprehensive test.
Board members showed support for a proposal to split the exam into two parts, but many resisted making the exam optional.
"In this day and age, when the United States is engaged across the globe, students ought to know something about global studies in addition to U.S. history as a requirement," said James Dawson of the Board of Regents.
"Today, in order to be a functioning citizen, you have to be able to listen to political arguments and of course to make sure that the information you are being given is fact-checked," said James Jackson of the Board of Regents.
State education officials will now gather feedback and develop a formal proposal, which the Regents would have to approve.
New requirements would go into effect starting in September 2013.