Skip to content Skip to navigation

Educating students for the real world

by Antonia Shoumatoff
Thu Apr 7th, 2016

The NY State Board of Regents has rules that a high school diploma can only be awarded to students who pass five regents tests that will include math, social studies, English, science and a fifth in an area designated as a “Pathway.”   Unfortunately not all students are capable of passing those tests.  Some take the test up to five times and still fail.  Students, teachers and parents find the tests are more challenging than the pre-Common Core tests. 

Many of the failing students are in a Special Education program.  In the past, New York State had a Regents Competency Test that students could take.  

Now a different credential is being offered as a parallel track to the Regents for those students from 9-12th Grades who are struggling to pass the tests.  It is called “Career Development and Occupational Studies” (CDOS).  It serves as a certificate for entry-level employment, endorsed by the New York State of Regents, and allows high school students to participate in real work experiences while developing practical skills.

The program was described by Katy McEnroe, Webutuck School District’s Director of Student Services, to potential employers and business owners at the Harlem Valley Chamber of Commerce meeting on April 7, 2016.

“We are providing classes in work-based skills, such as how to look for a job, how to do an interview, how to fill out a W-2,” explained McEnroe.  The program provides 216 hours of work-based learning, 54 of which have to be in an actual workplace.

They still have to take the Regents, even if they fail them, and can continue to take them until they are 21.”

“This credential is the way that the school district can say this young person is ready to go out into the workforce even if they have failed the Regents.  When we give them this credential in their senior year we are helping them to gain opportunities in the real world.”

Ms. McEnroe described work in agriculture, construction and in the Community Garden that students at Webutuck already are doing.  Some of the students are working with the Northeast Community Center.

Ken Hale of Maplebrook School, who heads up the Chamber,  said, “We have a lot of experience preparing students for entry level work such as how to balance a check book or how to present yourself.  We have a lot of young people at our school who can’t pass Regents or get a H.S. diploma but can still contribute to society.  This kind of program can help a lot, and we would like to support it with our expertise.”

The upshot is that high schoolers who are stumbling in the academic world have a shot at a certificate that will give them a sense of accomplishment and will prepare them for dealing with the basics of getting a job and dealing with household economics.  Businesses will have a stream of entry level employees that will have basic skills.