College and career readiness in the 21st century requires critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, information, media, technology, and career skills. These cannot be learned solely in the classroom nor assessed only by exams.

Research supports the connection between work experiences in high school and later educational achievement. For example, a national study of more than 10,000 youth found that Black and Hispanic students who worked during high school were more likely to earn associate and bachelor degrees.

The NY State Department of Education recognized the value of real-world learning when they included the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Pathway as one option in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Regents or Advanced Regents diploma.

A few facts to correct misunderstandings that have resulted from recent articles in the Democrat and Chronicle and City Newspaper:

  • The “4+1 Pathway” is the framework for Regents diplomas
  • “4” refers to Regents-level courses and exams in English Language Arts, math, science and social studies
  • “+1 Pathway” refers to 1 additional subject of which CDOS is one of six options
  • The CDOS pathway is not an alternative diploma and does not replace the Regents exams

The CDOS pathway fulfills one graduation requirement by developing a career plan, completing 216 hours of career and technical education and/or work-based learning, and documenting employability skills, including problem solving and organizing and analyzing data; or completing a nationally recognized work readiness credential.

Students who choose the CDOS pathway must also complete all the other requirements for a diploma, including passing at least four Regents exams and earning 22 credits in US history, global history and geography, government, economics, life and physical science, mathematics, language other than English, fine arts, health, and physical education.

There should be outrage over systemic inequities that impact students of color. However, let us focus our outrage on the real inequities – like that RCSD is owed $86 million in state education funds, high school students miss school while caring for younger siblings due to the lack of child care, and the lack of affordable and safe housing disrupts children’s education.

Students replacing one exam with work-based learning is not a “low-level” or “dumbed-down” diploma. It is a 21st century education that prepares students for college and careers in education, government, business…and even journalism.