May 2000

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE, SECONDARY AND CONTINUING EDUCATION
ALBANY, NY 12234

DEVELOPMENT OF CORE AND SPECIALIZED COURSES

Courses in Core Standards Areas

1.  What are the criteria for developing courses in the core standards areas of English language arts, mathematics, social studies and science?

Courses in these areas must be based on the commencement level of the learning standards, the instructor must be certified in the subject, and instructional time must equal at least three hours per week for a year (or the equivalent) for a one-credit course. Examples of courses that may be included in the core are:

  • Applied courses, such as an "Applied Mathematics" course that contains extensive hands-on experience in the application of the mathematics in the standards.
  • Slower-paced programs that provide students with two or more years of instruction in mathematics before they take the Regents Mathematics Examination at the end of the tenth or eleventh grade.
  • Accelerated programs that allow students to take a high school course in eighth grade and take more advanced courses for this additional units of high school credit.

Specialized Courses

2.  What are specialized courses?

A specialized course is a course that meets the requirements of a unit of credit and is based on the commencement level of the State’s learning standards. Such a course develops a subject in greater depth and/or breadth and may be interdisciplinary.

3.  What are the criteria for developing specialized courses in the core areas of English, mathematics, social studies and science that students may take after passing the required Regents Examination?

The content of such courses may be more specialized than courses leading up to the Regents examination, e.g., a course in debate might fill the requirement for the fourth credit of English. Instructors must be appropriately certified, but the certification requirement may reflect the specialization of the content rather than the general subject area, e.g., a course in anatomy and physiology might be taught by an instructor certified in health services; a course in statistics might be taught by an instructor certified in business education. The instructional time for the courses must equal at least three hours a week for a year (or the equivalent) for a one-credit course. Courses meeting these criteria should be approved by the local board of education and do not require a variance or approval from the Department.

4.  Who will define the units of credit for specialized courses beyond the core standards areas?

Local boards of education will have the authority to define units for credits beyond the core requirements. The additional credits that students need to reach the required total will be in arts programs, occupational programs, and elective academic courses designed by the local school. Those credits may combine work experiences with instruction, involve students with arts institutions in the community, or allow the student to have at least part of the learning experiences at a local college.

5.  For an interdisciplinary specialized course, how many units of credit would a student earn?

Students may only earn one unit of credit, but successful completion of the unit of study may be used to meet the distribution requirements in more than one subject. In a public high school, an interdisciplinary specialized course must be taught by a teacher certified in at least one of the subjects.