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Multiple Pathways Frequently Asked Questions

(Updated March 2019)

At the January and March 2015 Regents meetings, the Board of Regents approved regulatory amendments to provide assessment pathways to graduation.  These regulatory provisions allow students to meet the assessment requirements for earning a diploma utilizing a 4+1 assessment option.
In March 2016, the Board amended the 4+1 options to include the CDOS Pathway. The March 2016 Regents item outlines the provisions for the CDOS pathway.  This amendment also allows all students to earn the CDOS Commencement Credential.
 
Students who first enter grade nine in September 2011 and thereafter, or who are otherwise eligible to graduate in June 2015 or thereafter, have the following options available in order to meet the assessment requirements leading to a Regents or Local diploma:
 
  • Pass four (4) required Regents examinations or Department-Approved Alternatives as follows: 1 English assessment, 1 mathematics assessment,  1 science assessment, 1 social studies assessment. 
  • Plus any one (1) of the following options:
  • Pass a Department-Approved Pathway Assessment in the Arts; or
  • Pass a Department-Approved Pathway Assessment in a Language other than English (LOTE); or
  • Pass an additional mathematics assessment in a different course (Regents exam or Department-Approved Alternative); or
  • Pass an additional science assessment in a different course (Regents exam or Department-Approved Alternative); or
  • Pass an additional social studies assessment in a different course (Regents exam or Department-Approved Alternative); or
  • Pass an additional English assessment in a different course selected from the Department-Approved Alternative list; or
  • Successfully complete a Department-Approved CTE program; or
  • Successfully complete all the requirements for the CDOS Commencement Credential (Option 1 or 2).

This document contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Multiple Pathways to Graduation (4+1). Questions are organized in the following categories:
Graduation Requirements using Pathways
 
1.  What cohorts of students are eligible to use the 4+1 Pathway option?
Any student who first entered grade nine in September 2011 and thereafter or who is otherwise eligible to graduate in June 2015 or thereafter, may use the 4+1 Pathway option to meet the assessment requirements for graduation.
 
2.   Is there an application process students must use in order to utilize the pathways assessment options?
No.  The pathways assessment option is not subject to application on the part of the student and is available to all students who first entered grade nine in September 2011 and thereafter or who are otherwise eligible to graduate in June 2015 and thereafter.
 
3.   If a student was unable to graduate in the past because the student did not pass a second social studies Regents exam, can the student graduate now or in the future under a 4+1 Pathway Option?
Any student who first entered grade nine in September 2011 and thereafter or who is otherwise eligible to graduate in June 2015 or thereafter, may utilize the 4+1 Pathway option to meet the diploma requirements.
 
4.   What courses must a student complete in order to meet the pathway requirements? 
The pathway regulations address assessment requirements only.  Generally, with the exception of credit by exam outlined in Commissioner’s regulations 100.5(d) , a student must complete the course(s) designed to culminate in the assessment they wish to take.
 
Example: If a student wishes to use Geometry for the +1 pathway assessment, s/he must complete the Geometry course before being allowed into the examination.
 
5.   What is meant by in a “in a different course” in the description of the +1 pathway assessment?
The +1 pathway assessment in math, science, social studies or English must measure different content than the assessment the student used in one of the 4 required exams.
 
Example: A student uses the Chemistry Regents exam as the one required science exam in the series of 4; the student may use another science assessment that measures a different science course, e.g., Living Environment, as the +1.   
If a single course culminates in multiple exams (e.g., the Regents exam in Living Environment and the AP Biology exam), the student may not utilize the Regents exam in Living Environment for one of the 4 required assessments and the AP Biology exam for the +1 pathway assessment.
 
6.   May a student use a +1 pathway assessment in the same discipline but a different course as one of the exams s/he used in the 4 required assessments? For example: Chemistry and AP Chemistry or ELA and AP English?
If a course culminates in a different exam than that used for one of the 4 required exams, it may be used as a +1 pathway option.
 
Example: A student passes a Regents level Living Environment course and passes the Living Environment Regents exam for the required science assessment, then takes a separate AP Biology course and passes the AP Biology exam with a score of 3 or higher. The AP Biology exam can be used to fulfill the +1- pathway option.
 
 
Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Pathway
 
7.  What is the CDOS Pathway option?
The CDOS Pathway option allows all students to use the Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential as a pathway, in lieu of the fifth required assessment for graduation.  A student seeking a diploma using the CDOS pathway option must complete the required 22 units of diploma credit and pass 1 Regents exam or Department-Approved Alternative in each discipline (English language arts, math, science, and social studies), as well as complete all the requirements for the CDOS Commencement Credential.
 
8.   Is the CDOS Pathway option available to students who are not identified as having a disability?
Yes.  Board of Regents action in March 2016 made the CDOS Commencement Credential available to all students. Consequently, the CDOS Pathway is now available to all students.
 
9.   Where can I find more information about the CDOS Commencement Credential?
Additional information about the CDOS Commencement Credential can be found at the CDOS Pathway to a Regents or Local Diploma page.
 
 
Safety Nets and Appeals
 
10. May a student with a disability use the low pass safety net (55-64 on all Regents exams) and the compensatory safety net (45-54 on Regents exams other than ELA and math) in conjunction with the 4+1 Pathway option in order to earn a local diploma?
Yes.  However, these safety net provisions may only be applied to Regents examinations and not to Department-Approved Alternatives.
 
11. How is the low pass safety net option applied when a student with a disability chooses a 4+1 pathway option?
The low pass safety net option lowers the passing score for students with a disability to 55.  A student who chooses the 4+1 pathway may graduate with a local diploma using the low pass safety net option if s/he receives a score of 55-64 on any/all of the Regents examinations required for the diploma including the pathway if it is a Regents exam. Students relying on the Department-Approved Alternative assessment in the pathway of his or her choice must achieve at least the minimum acceptable passing score for that examination.
 
12. How is the compensatory safety net option applied when a student with a disability chooses a 4+1 pathway option?
The student may use a score of 65 or higher on one Regents examination to compensate for a score of 45 to 54 on a Regents examination other than ELA and math. A score of at least 55 (or an approved appeal of 52-54) must be earned on the ELA Regents examination and on at least one mathematics Regents examination.
This option applies only to Regents examinations.  High scores on a Department-Approved Alternative assessment may not be used to compensate for a lower score on a Regents examination. Likewise, a high score on a Regents examination (65 or more) cannot be used to compensate for a lower score on a Department-Approved Alternative assessment.
 
13. Students with disabilities using the compensatory safety net option must score at least 55 (or an approved appeal of 52-54) on the mathematics and ELA Regents examinations. If a student wishes to satisfy the +1 pathway assessment with an additional mathematics Regents exam, must s/he score a 55 on that additional mathematics Regents exam?
No. Students using the compensatory safety net must have a 55 (or an approved appeal of 52-54) or better on at least one mathematics Regents exam. A student scoring between 45-54 on a second mathematics Regents exam may use a score of 65 of higher on another required Regents exam to compensate for the 45-54 score on the second mathematics exam.
 
14. If a student with a disability scores 65 or higher on two Regents examinations in the same subject area (e.g., math), may each of these scores be used to compensate for scores of 45 to 54 on two other required Regents examinations?
If the student scores 65 or higher on two of the Regents examination needed to fulfill the assessment graduation requirements under the 4+1 option, both of these examinations may be used to compensate for a score of 45 to 54 on another required Regents examination. However, a score of 55 (or an approved appeal of 52-54) or higher is required for one mathematics Regents examination and the ELA Regents examination.
 
15. May a student use the appeals process outlined in Commissioner’s Regulations §100.5(d)(7) in order to graduate with a lower score on a Regents examination in conjunction with the 4+1 Pathway option?
Yes.  A student who meets the criteria set forth in §100.5(d)(7) may utilize the appeals process to appeal scores of 60-64 on any Regents exam used to meet the diploma requirements, or in the case of a student with a disability seeking a local diploma, scores of 52-54.
 
16. May a student identified as an English language learner utilize the ELA Regents examination appeal process outlined in Commissioner’s Regulations §100.5(d)(7) in conjunction with the 4+1 Pathway option?
Yes. A student identified as an English language learner who is eligible to appeal a score of 55-59 on the ELA Regents exam required for graduation may also meet the diploma requirements using a 4+1 Pathway option.
 
17. May a student with a disability who entered grade 9 prior to September 2011, and as such still has access to Regents Competency Tests (RCTs), exercise the 4+1 Pathway option to meet the diploma requirements?
In certain circumstances, students with disabilities may use the 4+1 Pathway Option in conjunction with RCTs to meet diploma requirements.  Please note that an eligible student can only use the RCT for purposes of meeting diploma requirements if the student is unable to pass a Regents exam in a subject area. The following outlines what is allowable for such students in the various pathways:
• STEM Pathway: If the student passes a Regents exam in math (science) as part of the 4 required assessments s/he may use an additional Regents exam in math (science) as the +1 pathway. If an eligible student uses a Regents exam in mathematics (science) as part of the 4 required examinations, s/he may not use an RCT in mathematics (science) as the +1 pathway option because the RCT can only be used if the student is unable to pass a Regents exam in a subject area.
• CTE, Arts, Humanities, LOTE, CDOS Pathway: A student may use any combination of RCTs and Regents examinations to meet the 4 required assessments plus an approved pathway assessment in: CTE, Arts, Humanities, LOTE, or meet the requirements of the CDOS commencement credential, to meet the diploma requirements.
 
 
Transfer Students
 
18. May students who transfer to a New York State school for the first time in grade 11 or 12 still be exempt from the Global History and Geography Regents exam?
Yes. The pathway assessment options do not change the transfer exemptions. 
 
Students who enter a NY State school for the first time in grade 11 or 12, or who reenter after completing 3 or fewer semesters, may be exempt from the Global History and Geography Regents exam or a Department-Approved Alternative, but must still pass the US History Regents exam. Students in this situation are not required to choose an alternate pathway. Students in this situation may not choose an alternate assessment in lieu of the US History assessment (Regents exam or a Department-Approved Alternative).  Students do however have the option to refuse this exemption.
 
 
Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation
 
19. What are the requirements for the Regents Diploma with advanced designation?  Have these requirements changed as a result of the 4+1 pathway option?
Students may earn a Regents diploma with advanced designation and also avail themselves of the pathway assessment option.
 
Students may meet the assessment requirements in order to earn a Regents diploma with advanced designation by passing any one of the following combinations of Regents examinations and/or Department-Approved Alternatives if applicable:
  1. Traditional Combination: English language arts, Global History and Geography, US History and Government, 3 mathematics, and 2 science (one life science, one physical science) = 8 Assessments
  2. Pathway Combination (other than STEM): English language arts, 1 social studies,  3 mathematics, 2 science (one life science, one physical science), and either 1 pathway assessment other than science or math, or meet the requirements of the CDOS Commencement Credential = 7 Assessments plus CDOS or 8 Assessments
  3. STEM (Mathematics) Pathway Combination: English language arts, 1 social studies, 2 science (one life science, one physical science), and 4 mathematics (at least one assessment will be a Department-Approved Alternative assessment) = 8 Assessments
  4. STEM (Science) Pathway Combination: English language arts, 1 social studies, 3 sciences (at least one life science, at least one physical science), 3 mathematics = 8 Assessments
20. The Department only offers three Regents examinations in mathematics. How will a student complete a STEM (mathematics) pathway and earn the Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation if they have to pass a total of 4 mathematics examinations?
Students wishing to pursue the STEM (mathematics) pathway and meet the requirements for the Regents diploma with advanced designation must use at least one mathematics assessment from the Department-Approved Alternatives.
 
 
Pathway Assessments
 
21. What assessments, other than Regents exams, can students use for the 4+1 Pathway Option?
Students may use any Department-Approved Pathway assessments found on the list of approved pathway assessments.  This page includes approved LOTE pathway assessments, Arts pathway assessments, CDOS pathway assessments, and CTE pathway information.
 
22. Will the Department be adding more approved assessments for the 4+1 Pathway Option?
The Department will consider approving additional assessments for the +1 pathway option. New approved assessments will be published online with the current approved assessments.
 
23. Can the Department-Approved Alternatives for ELA be used to fulfill the +1 pathway assessment?
The Department-Approved Alternatives for ELA can be used as the +1 pathway assessment if the student has passed the ELA Regents exam and then goes on to take an additional examination in a different course in English selected from the list of Department-Approved Alternative exams.
 
24. What are the approved pathway assessments in the Arts, languages other than English (LOTE), and CDOS?

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Career and Technical Education (CTE)

25. What are the Department-approved CTE assessments that can be used to meet the 4+1 Pathway option in CTE?
All assessments associated with a CTE program approved through the NYSED Program Approval process are approved to meet the 4+1 Pathway option in CTE.  Visit CTE Policy for more information on the CTE approval process.
 
26. What courses must a student complete to be allowed access to the CTE pathway assessments?
In all cases a student must successfully complete a Department-approved program in CTE in order to gain access to a CTE technical assessment. Visit CTE Policy for more information on the CTE approval process.
 
27. Do all Department-approved CTE programs culminate in an approved +1 pathway assessment?
Yes.  As of August 2018, the Department streamlined the approval process to allow +1 pathway CTE technical assessments to be approved as a component of an application for CTE Program Approval, rather than through a separate application process.  CTE technical assessments aligned with approved CTE programs of study that allow for technical endorsement on the high school diploma are considered as approved +1 Pathway Assessments and may be used as the fifth required assessment toward graduation.
 
28. A student is enrolled in a Department-approved CTE program.  Does the student have to successfully complete all three parts of the technical assessment included in the approved program in order to exercise the +1 pathway option?
Yes.  A student must successfully complete all components of the CTE approved program, which includes the 3-part technical assessment, in order to utilize the CTE Pathway option.
 
29. May students substitute an approved CTE assessment for the one required science assessment needed for graduation?
No.  All students must pass one science assessment (Regents exam or a Department-Approved Alternative).
 
30. Local Education agencies can opt to offer industry credentials that stipulate requirements beyond the scope of the NYSED CTE approved program. For example, the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement requires 400 hours of mentored work in order to earn the industry credential. Do students have to complete requirements that go beyond the Department-approved CTE program in order to exercise the +1 pathway option?
No. Students must successfully complete all components of the Department-approved CTE program, but they are not required to meet additional industry expectations beyond the scope of the approved program in order to exercise the 4+1 option.
 
31. Some industry developed technical assessments are multipart exams. For example the ASE technical assessment has multiple parts. Do students need to pass all of the parts to exercise the +1 Pathway Option?
Students must pass all parts of the assessment included in the CTE  Program Approval application.
 
32. Are testing accommodations allowable for the industry-based technical assessments for the CTE pathway?
Testing accommodations for State and local assessments must be provided as documented in a student’s individualized education program (IEP) consistent with section 200.4(d)(2)(vi) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and in accordance with Department guidelines in the  Test Access and Accommodations Manual for Students with Disabilities.  However, the use of testing accommodations allowable for CTE industry-based assessments, and the types of testing accommodations provided, is determined by the entities creating those assessments.
 
 
Data and Reporting
 
33. How are schools required to record students’ use of the 4+1 Pathway Option on transcripts and permanent records?
Pathway options are a part of regulatory provisions outlining what students must do to earn a high school diploma.  Districts should record all assessments a student uses to meet the diploma requirements on transcripts and all commencement-level state assessments must be recorded on students’ permanent records. There is no additional notation necessary on transcripts to indicate that a student met requirements using a pathway option.
 
34. How are schools required to report students’ use of the 4+1 Pathway Option to the New York State Education Department?
Reporting requirements are listed in the Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual.  Per this guidance, students must always be reported with Career Path Code HUM if they passed at least two Regents exams in social studies, one Regents exam or Department-Approved Alternative in English, math, and science, regardless of whether the student pass additional Regents examinations, Department-Approved Alternatives, or Department-Approved Pathway Assessments in the Arts, Career and Technical Education, and/or Biliteracy (LOTE), and/or met the requirement of a CDOS Commencement Credential.  If a student did not use the Humanities (HUM) pathway (student passed only one Social Studies Regents exam) and met the requirements for multiple pathways (i.e., STEM Math or Science), the student should be reported with the Career Path Code for the career pathway with which the student most closely associates.