BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New York students will have more ways to earn a high school diploma under a change approved by state education leaders.

Right now, students must pass five Regents exams to graduate — one each in English, science and math and two in social studies. The plan approved by the Board of Regents on Monday would let students replace one of the social studies exams with a comparable exam in a trade such as culinary arts, welding, accounting, graphic arts, electronics, carpentry and hospitality management, among others.

Education Commissioner John King said the change will keep students interested in school. Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said that it will help improve the state’s 75 percent graduation rate while increasing the percentage of graduates who are ready for college and careers.

State officials also hope the testing will spur districts to expand vocational training and internship programs.

According to state education statistics, just 37 percent of New York high school graduates have test scores that show they’re ready for college or a career, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

The change is expected to start with current seniors.

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