It’s October, and that means students across Rhode Island are filling in bubbles on standardized tests. The annual use of testing in math and English has become a controversial tool for rating schools, and making decisions about high school diplomas, and it will soon be part of teacher evaluations too. One researcher who started out supporting standardized testing now says its part of the problem in public schools. Diane Ravitch has become one of the strongest voices in the national debate and she spoke at the University of Rhode Island last night.
Rhode Island teachers are breathing a sigh of relief now that state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has postponed the inclusion of test scores on teacher evaluations for a year.
Student results on the New England Common Assessment Program were supposed to be folded in to teacher evaluations starting this school year. Gist said the policy is widely misunderstood. A year, she said, should give them ample time to clarify the policy.
Rhode Island teachers can breathe a sigh of relief as they go about the usual business of preparing for a new school year. State officials have announced a delay in the use of student test scores in the teachers’ annual performance ratings.
State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says public school teachers need more time to understand how scores from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) will factor into the ratings. A bad performance review could result in termination or loss of certification for a teacher receiving a poor evaluation for several years in a row.
The state Department of Education is postponing for one year the inclusion of NECAP test scores in a teacher’s evaluation. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said there was not enough clarity on how the test was being used to assess teacher effectiveness.
The state Board of Education returns to Rhode Island College Monday for the second day of a two-day retreat. The meeting is aimed at educating board members about key topics that will be surfacing over the coming months. Initially they didn’t want to hold it in public.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee is pulling the plug on his embattled choice to become the state’s interim commissioner of higher education.
Chafee said Eva-Marie Mancuso is dropping her request for a state Ethics Commission waiver to move into the position. The waiver is needed since members of public boards are prohibited from accepting an appointment from a board of which they’re a member. Mancuso serves as chairwoman of the state Board of Education and will remain in that post.
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said parents in schools receiving a low rating should seek answers into how those schools are going to improve.
Twenty-eight schools received the lowest ratings, many of them were in Providence. The education department said the rating system is designed to identify warning signs and to help schools improve. Gist said while it takes years to turn a school around, parents should be concerned about a low-performing school.
The State Board of Education will reconsider a graduation requirement that says students must score partially proficient or better on a state test to get a diploma. Several advocacy groups have filed a formal petition with the board asking it to rescind the testing policy. The petition triggers a 30-day deadline for the board to respond.
The groups joining the petition include the Providence Student Union and local chapters of the ACLU and NAACP. They argue that high stakes testing is unfair, putting some 4,000 students at risk of not graduating.