The Education Trust–New York Statement on Changing High School Graduation Requirements

Jun 11, 2024 | Press Release

NEW YORK – The Education Trust-New York is deeply concerned about the potential repercussions of proposed changes to state graduation requirements on educational equity, particularly for students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and those in historically underserved districts.

While we support the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) move to expand diploma pathways for students, our primary concern is that the proposed changes to graduation requirements will lead to varying standards of rigor across districts. The flexibility, as proposed, risks creating confusion among students and exacerbating the difficulty for parents, colleges, and employers to accurately assess graduates’ preparedness for postsecondary success. For example, the proposal to sunset Regents exams as a graduation requirement removes a key objective measure of learning across all New York schools, while also jeopardizing state compliance with the federal requirement that 95% of all students take state assessments in math and reading.

This shift away from objective measures such as Regents exams may increase longstanding inequities in postsecondary preparedness for students who have been historically underserved by our education system. Consequently, any change toward a performance-based learning assessment system must be accompanied by significant safeguards ensuring all students, particularly those in chronically low-performing districts, are held to high standards that prepare them for success in college and careers.

It is imperative not to implement a system of low expectations that sets graduates up for academic and economic challenges in their futures. Students across New York work hard to earn a diploma and deserve to graduate prepared for college and the workforce.

As NYSED adds details to this outline of proposed actions, we look forward to working with the New York Equity Coalition and other partners to voice our concerns with state officials and other stakeholders. Together, we must ensure that a New York State diploma genuinely reflects graduates’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking – essential skills vital for their future success.

For more information on this issue, check out our 2023 statement and recommendations for the Blue Ribbon Commission from the New York Equity Coalition.

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About The Education Trust–New York:

The Education Trust–New York works to eliminate the gaps in equity and opportunity that hold back too many students from reaching their full potential, especially those who are from low-income backgrounds or students of color, in order to enable all students in New York State to achieve at high levels — from early childhood through college. Learn more at