New Diplomas Will Not Lower Standards, Regents Chancellor Says

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, made the case on WNYC that a proposed career and technical high school diploma would not be easier to obtain than the current Regents diploma.

"Don't mistake this for the old vocational education. This is not tracking. This is an alternate pathway to career and college ready," she said on "The Brian Lehrer Show." Hear the full interview above.

Ms. Tisch was responding to the news that the Board of Regents is considering offering two new diplomas -- the Career and Technical Education Regents diploma and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Regents diploma. These would be in addition to the current one-size-fits-all Regents diploma, which this year requires passing five subject matter tests.

"The intention was to lay out other pathways that youngsters might use to create educational environments where they can succeed," she said. "We have no intention of lowering the standard for graduation."

And, yes, she took questions about the current outcry over faulty state math and English exams.

"I am not making an excuse for any errors that were a part of the test booklet," she said. "Believe me, what I had to say to Pearson, I probably can't repeat on your radio show."

She acknowledged the anxiety around this year's testing, but said it had less to do with bad questions than with the movement toward a statewide teacher evaluation system.

"There is a large attempt here to use what is probably errors that occur just by the volume of test questions and the number of tests being given, because there is a sense of urgency around these tests because of the teacher evaluation system, which is going into place using these tests as the benchmark," she said.

She urged people to remember that the test scores account for just 20 percent of the overall assessment of an individual teacher.