Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

The Career and Technical High School of the Southern Westchester County, New York Board of Cooperative Educational Services (Boces): An Innovative Initiative for Reaching Higher Academic Standards in New York State

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

The Career and Technical High School of the Southern Westchester County, New York Board of Cooperative Educational Services (Boces): An Innovative Initiative for Reaching Higher Academic Standards in New York State

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

It is difficult to read a newspaper in New York State these days without coming upon a lead article, editorial or letter commenting upon the impact and effects of the new standards and graduation requirements being implemented in schools across the state, from Buffalo to Binghamton, from New York City to the tip of Long Island. Teachers, students, parents, administrators, education advocates and critics, legislators and the media are engaged in an intensifying debate about the merits and disadvantages of the new requirements. And new mandates are not solely for students. As The Journal News reports in "State gets tough on teachers" (Friday, March 31, 2000, p. 1) new regulations are in place requiring comprehensive performance evaluations of teachers in professional areas including: "subject knowledge, preparation, classroom management and ... lesson plans."

While virtually everyone is in favor of high standards, of particular concern are the following questions: Will current reform developments in New York State lead to success for all students in school? Or will they result in unprecedented numbers of adolescents failing and then choosing to drop out rather than renew efforts towards earning diplomas? Many fear that if the new standards cannot be reached, the dropout rates will skyrocket leaving thousands of young people adrift, unskilled and unprepared to find their way in an increasingly complex economic environment.

DIPLOMA OPTIONS FOR STUDENTS

Recognizing that there are first-rate technical skill sets equivalent to the demanding academic subject areas of the new Regents standards, an alternative route to mastery of rigorous curriculum material and a high school diploma is under consideration in New York State. In June 1999, the New York State Board of Regents appointed a national panel of experts to investigate the best models and assessments for integrating high academic and technical studies. The panel has also been asked to review various credential options to validate an integrated academic and technical route to a Regents Diploma (i.e., a Regents Technical Diploma). The panel is expected to make recommendations on these issues in June 2000.

Southern Westchester County BOCES is developing a Career and Technical High School scheduled to open in September, 2001. It is being designed to serve eligible students from the school districts of Southern Westchester, and will offer young people a demanding curriculum aligned with both the new state standards and workplace competencies validated by industry professionals.

This new BOCES program will offer a Regents Diploma to students (or a "Technical" Diploma if and when the state authorizes an alternative to the academically-focused Regents Diploma) with options for young people to pursue an industry-recognized certification in the technical area of a student's choice. What follows is a brief review of the history of BOCES, a description of the services provided by Southern Westchester BOCES, and then a fuller presentation of the Career and Technical High School initiative.

BOARDS OF COOPERATIVE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES

According to a 1997 study (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services: From Existing Strength to Improved Performance) authored by a task force appointed by the Commissioner of Education, Richard Mills, the BOCES were established in 1948 by the New York State Legislature as a mechanism for enhancing certain educational services to component school districts in the supervisory districts of the state. As the report notes, although at one time there were 207 supervisory districts in New York, by 1958 there were a total of 121 and 82 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services providing educational support on a shared, regional basis. Today, there are 38 supervisory districts with 38 BOCES operating in New York state. Each is led by a district superintendent and staff committed both to serving the local needs of the component school districts and implementing the regulations and educational priorities of the Commissioner of Education. …

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