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February 14, 2001

Regents bring career and technical education up to par with standards
Students must still pass exams in five core areas to graduate from high school

The state Board of Regents has approved a plan to enable schools to incorporate the state's new higher standards into vocational and technical high-school curricula. At the same time, the Regents retained the requirement that these students, like all high-school students in the state, will have to pass five exams in core disciplines in order to graduate.

The Business Council had strongly endorsed the proposal, which the Regents approved Feb. 6.

When New York's new academic standards are fully phased in, all New York State students will be required to pass exams in English, math, science, history, and American history/global studies in order to graduate from high school.

The career and technical education plan approved by the Regents will give schools more flexibility in designing courses to meet graduation requirements. Students will be able to take integrated or specialized courses that combine traditional academic knowledge with technical skills, and get credit for both, according to the Regents' news release.

These students will still have to pass either Regents exams or approved alternative exams in the five core areas.

In recent weeks, there has been some pressure to exempt students in vocational and technical education from the five-examination requirement.

"Anything less [than a five-exam requirement] for career and technical education students would be doing these students a great disservice," Daniel B. Walsh, president/CEO of The Business Council said in a Feb. 2 letter to Carl Hayden, chancellor of the Board of Regents.

Walsh acknowledged that some vocational and technical students are struggling to meet these new standards, and said these needs should be dealt with - "but not by sending them to a new career and technical education program that offers them less," Walsh wrote.

"Students who may gravitate to a more 'hands-on experiential approach to learning' should not be regarded as less intelligent than those who easily grasp more abstract learning," Walsh wrote. "Our education system can educate all students to the higher levels demanded by post-secondary education and the workforce.

"If we back off on the Regents requirements for career and technical education students, we are in effect saying we can't educate all students to the higher standards."

As the world of work grows more complex, a broad background in academics is increasingly important for everyone, including those in vocational and technical crafts and professions, Walsh said.

"New York State has an outstanding education system because of the steadfastness of the Board on these matters of higher standards," Walsh concluded.