Regents approve new graduation pathway

At its June 2016 meeting, the New York State Board of Regents adopted a regulation that will allow all students statewide the opportunity to graduate with a Career Development Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential added to their high school diplomas.

In the past, the CDOS Commencement Credential was available only to students with disabilities. The credential indicates that students are ready for entry-level employment after high school and have met requirements related to employability skills and career exploration and training.

Students who earn the CDOS Commencement Credential will still need to meet current minimum academic requirements, including earning at least 22 credits and passing four Regents exams (math, science, English language arts and social studies).

In addition, students will need to meet all the requirements for the credential, which can be earned in one of two ways:

• Option 1: Several requirements fall under this option, including preparing a career plan, which includes information about a student’s strengths, career interests and goals, as well as a plan to reach those goals. Each student also must complete 216 hours of career and technical education (CTE) coursework and/or work-based learning (54 of the 216 hours must be work-based experiences) and have an employability profile that rates the student’s workplace skills. In addition, this option requires that students participate in a curriculum based on the CDOS learning standards, which include exploring career options, using academic skills (such as math) in work settings, possessing employability skills (such as the ability to work as part of a team, problem-solving skills and communications skills) and acquiring career-specific knowledge and skills to progress toward gainful employment. Learn more about the standards at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/cdlearn/documents/cdoslea.pdf

• Option 2: Fulfill the requirements for one of the nationally recognized work readiness credentials, such as the National Work Readiness Credential, the SkillsUSA Work Force Ready Employability Assessment, the National Career Readiness Certificate WorkKeys and the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems Workforce Skills Certification System. Learn more at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/CDOScredential-att5.pdf

The credential is available beginning in June 2016 for students meeting all the requirements.

The CDOS Commencement Credential is the newest graduation “pathway” approved by the Board of Regents, complementing students’ options to choose from four other pathways: 1.) arts; 2.) humanities; 3.) biliteracy; 4.) career and technical education and 5.) science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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Board of Regents extends special education safety net

Certain students with disabilities will be allowed to graduate  without passing all required Regents exams

During its June 2016 meeting, the New York State Board of Regents approved an emergency action that will allow certain students with disabilities to graduate with a Local Diploma after their school superintendents review their coursework and certify the students have met minimum requirements.

This new graduation pathway (dubbed “Superintendent Determination Pathway”) goes into effect on June 20, 2016. The Board of Regents estimates that 1,300 students who wouldn’t otherwise meet graduation requirements will be eligible to earn their diplomas under the new process. An additional 900 students with disabilities who are in their fifth and sixth years of high school may also qualify.

This new pathway applies to students with disabilities who:
• Currently have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and are receiving special education services;
• Have not met graduation requirements under other safety net options (i.e., the “low pass” safety net option or the “compensatory” safety net option);
• Scored at least 55 on the English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics Regents exams or successfully appealed a score of 52 to 54;
• Are unable to demonstrate their proficiency on standard state assessments due to their disabilities;
• Have earned required course credits and passed all courses required for graduation, including the Regents courses that correspond with Regents exam areas (ELA, math, social studies and science);
• Can demonstrate graduation-level proficiency of the state’s learning standards in the subject area(s) where they were unable to pass Regents exams.

In these cases, the school district superintendent will be required to conduct a review to ensure the affected students with disabilities have met the required academic standards to earn a Local Diploma under this new graduation pathway. This is an automatic process; students or parents do not have to make a formal request. School principals and superintendents must sign a document prescribed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) commissioner that describes the evidence reviewed and the decision rendered by the superintendent and the students and their parents must receive a copy of this documentation. If a student does not meet the requirements, the documentation must note that the student can continue to attend school until the end of the school year when he/she turns 21. A copy of the form must be included in students’ academic records and submitted to NYSED no later than August 31 of the year the affected students graduate.

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Students give school salad bar an A+

Beginning Sept. 7, all three Liberty school cafeterias will include a free salad bar

It’s high noon for Liberty High School students, and it’s time for some tough choices.

Pizza or salad bar?

It’s a no brainer for tenth-grader Jeremy Lieberman, who piled lettuce, carrots and cucumbers onto a plate, topping them with a drizzle of ranch and sprinkle of cheese.

“I love the salad bar; it’s a good change,” he said on Tuesday, June 7 as he joined a long line of students and teachers turning a cold shoulder to the pizza and fries. “I love the new variety of healthy foods.”

That’s good news for Liberty Central School District officials, who announced in February that beginning next year, all students will be able to eat fresh vegetables and fruit from a salad bar courtesy of a grant from Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, the Whole Kids Foundation and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The high school salad bar opened on Monday, June 6. The elementary and middle school salad bars are expected to open in the fall.

“It’s really awesome,” said ninth-grader Maria Racon, whose plate was covered with carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes following a trip to the produce bar. “They have good fruits, vegetables and cheese.”

Stocked with fresh, seasonal produce, from carrots and cucumbers to broccoli and black-eyed peas, the bar is giving Liberty students healthier lunchtime options.

“There’s more variety of vegetables than we had before in the cafeteria,” said ninth-grader Mike Cohen, who was munching on chicken salad and slices of cucumbers and carrots from the bar. “What we had before wasn’t healthy or filling enough, which is something student-athletes look for.” (Mike is a member of the Liberty soccer, indoor track and baseball teams.)

Because the district is a part of the Community Eligibility Provision, meal charges for all students are free. Students do not have to pay to enjoy the a salad bar if selected as his or her main entree. Students can continue to purchase extra food items, such as a double meal or an extra snack or drink, for a fee.

“As a person with a food allergy, I was excited to see the salad bar introduced because it gives me the chance to get lunch for free at the school,” eleventh-grade student Samantha Burger said.

In planning for and implementing the produce bar, Food Service Director Dara Smith said that she and her staff had to work through many dietary concerns and logistics, such as the flow of traffic through the cafeteria before opening the high school’s salad bar.

“We’re using the high school salad bar as a pilot,” she said. “While we’d like to open the elementary and middle school salad bars before the end of the 2015-16 school year, we have to make sure all cafeteria staff are properly trained.”

Beginning Sept. 7, 2016, a salad bar in each school will be open daily.

“[The salad bars] could be the connection between healthy kids and academic improvement,” Liberty Middle/High School Principal Jack Strassman said. “Healthy kids learn better and perform better in school.”

The district also hopes to offer local produce through a farm to school outreach program that is being developed by .

For more information about the salad bar, please contact Dara Smith at (845) 292-5400 ext. 2040.

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