Special Education

New York State Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential

June 2013

Special Education Field Advisory

From: James P. DeLorenzo

Subject: New York State Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential - PDF PDF document (625 KB - Memo and all attachments)

I am pleased to announce that the New York State Board of Regents has approved regulations that establish an important new exiting credential for students with disabilities. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year and thereafter, students with disabilities1 will be able to earn a New York State (NYS) Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential. This credential will recognize each individual student’s preparation and skills for post-school employment. Where in the past, many students graduated with an individualized education program (IEP) diploma, this credential provides a more meaningful substitute for these students. For students with disabilities who are exiting with a regular high school diploma, it provides them with the additional opportunity to exit school with a credential that also recognizes the students’ work readiness skills.

Effective transition planning and services for students with disabilities includes appropriate assessment of a student’s needs, preferences, strengths and skills; realistic identification of post-secondary goals; development of an infrastructure to support instruction in the CDOS learning standards, participation in career exploration and work and community-based learning experience; increased opportunities for students to earn a diploma; and collaboration among regional partners responsible for the transition process and early referral to adult agencies. The establishment of a Regents-endorsed graduation credential that recognizes the accomplishments of students in these areas emphasizes the importance of this instruction for schools, helps to focus student commitment to career exploration and development, and provides potential employers with documentation on which students are exiting school with demonstrated knowledge and experience for entry-level employment.

For a copy of the State regulations authorizing school districts to award this new credential, see Attachment 1. Effective July 1, 2013, an individualized education program (IEP) diploma may no longer be awarded to students with disabilities.

Most students with disabilities will be able to graduate with the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential as a supplement to their regular diploma (Regents or local diploma). Students who are unable to earn a regular diploma because of their disability may graduate with the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential as the student’s only exiting credential, provided they meet the requirements for award of the credential and have attended school for at least 12 years, excluding Kindergarten. If the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential is the student’s only exiting credential and he/she is less than 21 years of age, the parent must be provided prior written notice indicating that the student continues to be eligible for a free appropriate public education until the end of the school year in which he/she turns age 21.

It is the responsibility of each school to ensure that the student has been provided with appropriate opportunities to earn a Regents or local high school diploma. Each school must provide the student with meaningful access to participate and progress in the general education curriculum to assist the student to meet the State’s learning standards. Access to the curriculum not only means that students are taking the appropriate courses needed to earn a regular diploma, but also that they are being provided with appropriate specially- designed instruction, accommodations, supports and services to progress in the curriculum. In order for students to also develop the knowledge and skills necessary to earn the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential, students must also be provided instruction that supports the achievement of the CDOS learning standards, access to career and technical education (CTE) coursework and opportunities to engage in school supervised work-based learning experiences, either in school and/or in the community. Schools should review their curriculum and instructional practices to ensure that all students with disabilities will be provided these instructional opportunities.

NYS CDOS COMMENCEMENT CREDENTIAL: REQUIREMENTS

The NYS CDOS Commencement Credential is a credential recognized by the NYS Board of Regents as a certificate that the student has the knowledge and skills necessary for entry level employment. There are two options available for students to earn this credential.

OPTION 1:

  • The student must have developed a Career Plan that includes documentation of the student’s self-identified career interests; career-related strengths and needs; career goals; and career and technical coursework and work-based learning experiences that the student plans to engage in to achieve those goals; and
  • The student must have demonstrated achievement of the commencement level CDOS learning standards in the areas of career exploration and development; integrated learning; and universal foundation skills; and
  • The student must have successfully completed at least 216 hours of CTE coursework and/or work-based learning experiences (of which at least 54 hours must be in work-based learning experiences); and
  • The student must have at least one completed employability profile that documents the student’s employability skills and experiences; attainment of each of the commencement level CDOS learning standards; and, as appropriate, attainment of technical knowledge and work-related skills, work experiences, performance on industry-based assessments and other work-related and academic achievements.

Each of the above requirements is further explained below.

CAREER PLANS

To earn the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential through Option 1, a student with a disability must have completed a commencement level Career Plan that includes documentation of the following:

  • the student’s self-identified career interests;
  • career-related strengths and needs;
  • career goals; and
  • CTE coursework and work-based learning experiences that the student plans to engage in to achieve those goals.

The activities that the student includes in his/her Career Plan are not limited to those career-related activities that will be provided by the school and may include other activities that the student involves him or herself in outside of school (e.g., volunteer work or summer employment).

School districts must provide students with the form to document the student’s Career Plan. NYSED has developed a model form for this purpose. (See Attachment 2) A student may choose to develop his/her Career Plan online, beginning in middle school, using CareerZone, a career exploration and planning website for youth that is provided at no cost to users by the NYS Department of Labor at www.careerzone.ny.gov.

Schools must assist the student, as appropriate, to develop his/her Career Plan. A student’s preferences and interests, as identified in the Career Plan, must be reviewed by the student at least once annually and must be considered by the committee of special education in the development of the student’s IEP. A copy of the student’s Career Plan that was in effect during the school year in which the student exits high school must be maintained in the student’s permanent record.

CDOS LEARNING STANDARDS

To earn this credential, the school must have documentation that the student demonstrated achievement of commencement level knowledge and skills relating to the CDOS learning standards in the areas of:
1. career development;
2. integrated learning; and
3a. universal foundation skills.
(Students may, but would not be required to, also achieve competencies in career majors.)

Instruction toward the commencement level learning standards should begin in elementary school and continue throughout the student’s high school experience. The CDOS learning standards, which are provided at the Elementary, Intermediate and Commencement levels, include a progression of learning standards:

1. Career Development: Students will be knowledgeable about the world of work, explore career options, and relate personal skills, aptitudes, and abilities to future career decisions. Learning standards in the area of career awareness and exploration may be evidenced by completing a career plan; applying decision-making skills in the selection of a career option; analyzing skills and abilities necessary for specific career options and participating in work experiences as described in Section II of the New York State Work-Based Learning Manual (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/wbl/home.html).

2. Integrated Learning: Students will demonstrate how academic knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace and other settings. This may be evidenced by applying academic knowledge and skills across multiple settings and demonstrating the ability to research, interpret, analyze and evaluate information.

3a. Universal Foundation Skills: Students will demonstrate mastery of the foundation skills and competencies essential for success in the workplace. These skills and competencies include the following:

  • Basic Skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking, arithmetical and mathematical functions);
  • Thinking Skills (problem solving, experimenting, focused observation and applying knowledge to new and unfamiliar situations);
  • Personal Qualities (self-management, planning, organizing and taking independent action);
  • Interpersonal Skills (teamwork and cooperation in large and small groups in family, social and work situations)
  • Technology (designing and creating things from available resources to satisfy personal and societal needs and wants);
  • Managing Information (accessing and using information obtained from other people, community resources and computer networks);
  • Managing Resources (applying financial and human factors, and the elements of time and materials to successfully carry out a planned activity); and
  • Systems (understanding and working within natural and constructed systems).

3b. Career Majors: (Optional for this credential.) Students who choose a career major will acquire the career-specific technical knowledge/skills necessary to progress toward gainful employment, career advancement, and success in postsecondary programs. The learning standards for career majors may be evidenced by acquisition of specific knowledge and skills within a specific career major. The Career Majors include the following:

  • Business/Information Systems;
  • Health Services;
  • Engineering/Technologies;
  • Human and Public Services;
  • Natural and Agricultural Sciences; and
  • Arts/Humanities.

The CDOS learning standards can be found at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/cdlearn/documents/cdoslea.pdf. Guidance included on this website includes key ideas, performance indicators describing expectations for students and sample tasks suggesting evidence of progress toward the standards. The Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Resource Guide with Core Curriculum is a companion document to the CDOS learning standards that provides information on the core content for each learning standard and career major, including teacher-developed classroom activities that help students achieve the CDOS learning standards (see http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/cdlearn/cdosresourceguide.html).

CTE COURSEWORK AND WORK-BASED LEARNING

To earn the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential, a student must have successfully completed not less than the equivalent of two units of study2 (216 hours) in either CTE courses and/or work-based learning experiences.

  • CTE coursework. For purposes of this credential, CTE coursework means grades 9-12 CTE courses, including specialized and integrated courses approved by either the local board of education or by NYSED. For information on CTE courses, see http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/.
  • Work-based learning experiences. Every student earning this credential must have earned a minimum of 54 documented hours of work-based learning experiences, which count towards the 216 hour requirement. These experiences must be under the supervision of the school district.

Work-based learning experiences may be provided through student participation in:

  • registered State-approved programs (i.e., Career Exploration Internship Program (CEIP); General Education Work Experience Program (GEWEP); Work Experience and Career Exploration Program (WECEP); and Career and Technical Education Cooperative Work Experience Program (CO-OP)); and/or through
  • other work-based learning experiences that are district approved including, but not limited to:
    • job shadowing,
    • community service,
    • volunteering,
    • service learning,
    • senior projects(s), and/or
    • school-based enterprise(s).

School credit may be given for these experiences. For further information on work-based learning experiences, see www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/wbl/docs/WBLmanualMarch2013.doc.

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education have jointly developed specific guidelines for school districts to use when providing community-based work programs for students with disabilities aged 14 or older (see http://www.dol.gov/whd/FOH/ch64/64c08.htm). All registered work-based learning programs must be under the supervision of a NYS certified work-based learning coordinator. It is highly recommended that all work-based learning activities that place students out into the business community, whether registered or not, be under the supervision of a NYS certified work-based learning coordinator for the safety and protection of the student and employer. For students with disabilities, the work-based learning coordinator should also collaborate with special education teachers to assure that the expectations of the worksite and the needs/goals of the students are considered.

Other nonregistered work-based learning programs should include, but are not limited to, the following components:

  1. a certified teacher or guidance counselor with the proper work-based learning career development extension overseeing the learning experience;
  2. an appropriate work site placement;
  3. supervised on-the-job training;
  4. related in-school instruction;
  5. coordination of in-school and work site components;
  6. a training plan;
  7. student evaluation;
  8. a copy of student working papers for work site placement; and
  9. a memorandum of agreement with the work site.

The special education staff, CTE teachers, family, student, and/or work-based learning coordinator should collaborate to create a coherent program that includes related in-school instruction and coordination of in school and work site components. The school district is responsible to ensure that the student receives special education supports and services to participate in the work-based learning experiences, consistent with the student’s IEP.

Work-based learning experiences must be provided consistent with NYSED guidelines and documented in a student’s transcript. Guidance on these and other work-based learning programs is provided in Attachment 3 and at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/wbl/home.html.

EMPLOYABILITY PROFILE

The district must ensure that the student has at least one work skills employability profile completed within one year prior to a student’s exit from high school that documents the student’s:

  • employability skills and experiences;
  • attainment of each of the commencement level CDOS learning standards for standards 1, 2 and 3a; and
  • as appropriate, attainment of technical knowledge and work-related skills, work experiences, performance on industry-based assessments and other work-related and academic achievements.

A copy of the student’s employability profile(s) must be maintained in the student’s permanent record. An employability profile will provide students with a better understanding of how others view their strengths and the skills they may need to continue to work on to realize their goals; summarizes their work-experiences, skills, abilities, knowledge and talents to assist in the development of a resume; and provides potential employers with evidence of work-skills attained.

Attachment 4 provides the State’s model Employability Profile form which may be used to meet the documentation requirements for an award of the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE OPTION 1 MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR AN AWARD OF A NYS CDOS COMMENCEMENT CREDENTIAL:

  1. For students with disabilities who exit from high school prior to July 1, 2015, the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential may be awarded to a student who has not met all of the requirements, provided that the school principal, in consultation with relevant faculty (e.g., guidance counselors, teachers, job coaches, CTE teachers and/or others knowledgeable about the student’s skills), has determined that the student has otherwise demonstrated knowledge and skills in the commencement level CDOS learning standards 1, 2 and 3a. An award of this credential means that the student is ready for entry-level employment and therefore, the principal must have evidence that the student has successfully completed relevant instructional and work-based learning activities during the student’s secondary school years that demonstrates the student has readiness skills for entry-level employment. However, up until June 30, 2015, the total hours of the CTE coursework and/or work-based learning activities may be less than the equivalent of two units of study (216 hours).
  2. For students with disabilities who transfer from another school district within the State or another state, the principal must, after consultation with relevant faculty, evaluate the work-based learning experiences and coursework on the student’s transcript or other records to determine if the student meets the requirements of the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential.

When making the determination as to whether the student meets the requirements of the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential in these situations, the principal, in consultation with relevant faculty should consider the following.

  • Documentation that the student has engaged in career planning and exploration. Minimally, all students should, have a career plan;
  • Evidence that the student has attained each of the commencement level CDOS learning standards;
  • The extent to which the student has successfully completed instruction, courses of study and transition activities at the secondary level related to the student’s post-secondary employment goals; and
  • An evaluation of the student’s employability skills, as documented in the employability profile of the student.

OPTION 2:

In lieu of a student meeting the requirements of option 1 to be awarded the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential, a district may award a student this credential if the student has met the requirements for one of the nationally recognized work readiness credentials, including but not limited to:

  • National Work Readiness Credential;
  • SkillsUSA Work Force Ready Employability Assessment;
  • National Career Readiness Certificate WorkKeys - (ACT); and
  • Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems Workforce Skills Certification System.

Attachment 5 provides a chart summarizing each of these national work readiness credentials.

Although a school district may provide individual students the option of earning the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential by meeting the requirements for one of the nationally recognized work readiness credentials, the national credential option should not be the only option available to students in the district to earn the Credential.

IEP TRANSITION PLANNING AND THE NYS CDOS COMMENCEMENT CREDENTIAL

A student’s preferences and interests as identified in his/her Career Plan must be reviewed annually and considered in the development of the student’s IEP. Career planning and participation in CTE and work-based learning programs are integral components of the transition planning process. NYS regulations require each student with a disability who has an IEP to begin receiving transition programs and services the school year in which that student turns age 15, or younger if appropriate. Transition programs and services, which are designed to incrementally prepare the student with a disability to achieve his or her post-secondary goals in the areas of training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills through a set of coordinated activities, must be documented in the student’s IEP. Attachment 6 provides a crosswalk of the transition components of the IEP with the requirements of the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential.

ENSURING STUDENTS HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO GRADUATE WITH A REGULAR DIPLOMA

In order to ensure that students are not ‘tracked’ to the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential in a way that diminishes the students’ opportunities to graduate with a regular high school diploma, State regulations provide that where the State finds that a school district has awarded this credential to more than 20 percent of the students with disabilities in the cohort and where such credential is not a supplement to a regular high school diploma, the State has the authority to redirect the district’s use of a portion of the district’s Part B Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grant funds for targeted activities to ensure that students with disabilities have appropriate access to participate and progress in the general education curriculum necessary to earn a regular high school diploma. The State will make a district-by-district determination as to whether redirection of such funds is warranted.

TRAINING AND RESOURCES FOR TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE ON THE NYS CDOS COMMENCEMENT CREDENTIAL

NYSED will provide additional information and regional workshops regarding the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential. Questions regarding this memorandum and the credential should be submitted to cdoscomment@mail.nysed.gov.


1 If the student has a severe disability and has taken the NYS Alternate Assessment (NYSAA), he or she would graduate with the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential in lieu of an IEP diploma. These students are not eligible for the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential. Guidance on the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential may be found at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/SACCmemo.htm.

2 One unit of study is equivalent to 108 hours

Attachment 1 – Express Terms
Attachment 2 – Career Plan Form - PDF PDF document (78 KB) and Word word document (100 KB)
Attachment 3 – Work-based Learning Programs
Attachment 4 – Model Employability Profile and Directions - PDF PDF document (226 KB) and Word word document (144 KB)
Attachment 5 – National Work Readiness Credentials
Attachment 6 – Transition and the NYS CDOS Credential Crosswalk

Last Updated: October 16, 2013