Isaiah Maines senior photo seated on outdoor bleachers and wearing a baseball glove on his left hand

Isaiah Maines (Photo: Molinski Photography)

Senior Isaiah Maines proudly represented Hudson High School during a statewide student forum to discuss potential changes to state graduation measures and requirements. The forum was hosted by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Maines, who was named a My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Fellow last year, was invited by NYSED to participate in the “Graduation Measures Initiative Student Forum” held on March 10, 2022. Maines was referred by his MBK mentor, Deputy Brian McSween from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department.

“Not a lot of people get to say they were in a forum to give input on students’ educations,” said Maines. “It was honestly very exciting knowing that some things I said could affect the way New York students graduate from high school.”

The purpose of the forum was to get student perspectives on what a New York State high school diploma should represent. It aimed to review current graduation measures, what it means to earn a high school diploma, and ways to ensure equity for all students across the state. The forum focused on two key questions:

  1. What knowledge, skills, and/or experiences are important for ALL students to have by the end of high school?
  2. How should students show that they have the knowledge, skills, and/or experiences necessary for graduation?

“There were several interesting comments brought up by students during the forum, particularly about how exams and assessments should not determine our futures,” shared Maines.

For example, some students suggested a comprehensive final project instead of Regents exams to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding.

“As a kid who sometimes gets nervous for big tests, I’m glad to see they are open to looking for other ways to make sure kids know all the information but not in a test way,” Maines continued.

Other ideas shared during the forum include expanding curriculum to encompass “real-world” topics such as managing finances, understanding credit, and learning more about how the government works. In the proposed budget for the 2022-23 school year, the Hudson City School District plans to add a high school Civics teacher to expand curriculum about citizen rights and obligations.

NYSED intends to use the feedback gathered during the forum to reshape New York State’s high school graduation requirements.