graduation requirements

School districts are getting ready to notify students of their scores on the state’s standardized test, known as NECAP. The results will have a major impact on roughly 4,000 seniors, who need to improve their scores to earn a diploma.

Although the state has announced it will allow waivers for students who get into college, this is the first year that high school seniors are expected to use NECAP scores to earn a diploma. They also have to pass their classes and complete either a senior project or a portfolio demonstrating highlights from their high school career.

The Providence City Council wants to delay a testing requirement for high school seniors, taking effect for the first time this year. The council unanimously passed a resolution last week requesting the pause, citing new advice from education officials that would exempt students accepted at competitive colleges.

Providence City Councilman Sam Zurier says the exemption seems unfair to most Providence students, who are more likely go to community college or straight to work.

First of all, I go away for a family emergency, and what happens? News, that’s what!

The Department of Education announced at the end of last week that some high school students will no longer have to pass the standardized test known as the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, to earn a high school diploma. The exception applies to students who get into colleges with non-open enrollment.  

So, in other words, if you get into a competitive college, the test-based part of the state’s graduation requirement will be waived.

The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to announce yet another lawsuit in its ongoing battle over high-stakes testing.

Critics of a state policy tying high school diplomas to test scores point out that 4,000 seniors are at risk of not graduating, and they are overwhelmingly,  minority and low-income students, along with students with disabilities. However, state officials have been standing firm, arguing that students have multiple opportunities to show improvement on the test and earn a diploma.

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.

A Harvard researcher, a former Massachusetts education official and a testing company founder are among the experts slated to address high-stakes testing at the Rhode Island Board of Education this weekend. The board is holding a two-day retreat as it faces calls to reconsider a controversial policy linking test scores to a high school diploma.  

The Rhode Island Board of Education will address two recent controversies in a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The board is planning to vote on Governor Lincoln Chafee’s pick for a new Interim Higher Education Commissioner. The candidate, Department of Education Chief of Staff Clark Greene, was named only after Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso stepped aside as a candidate herself, because of ethics questions.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

4,000 high school seniors across Rhode Island need to beef-up their math skills so they can improve their test scores enough to graduate under a controversial new high school diploma system. Many of them are spending the summer doing just that. Roughly 100 students participated in a program wrapping up this week at the Community College of Rhode Island. It brought students from Providence, Warwick and Cranston together to study math and get a taste of college life.

“Okay, we’re gonna do five 0r 10 more minutes of class, then we’re gonna take the test.”

A judge has ruled the Rhode Island Board of Education's plan to hold a closed-door retreat violates the state’s Open Meetings Act. The ruling, issued Tuesday, says the public must be allowed to attend a portion of the retreat which will address a controversial high school graduation policy.

At issue is the use of test scores from the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, as a requirement for a high school diploma. The board had planned to gather information about the rule behind closed doors, at a two-day retreat scheduled for later this month.

A judge has ordered the Rhode Island Board of Education to open up a portion of what was supposed to be a retreat closed to the public.

The board had planned to hear about requiring NECAP test scores for graduation at a closed retreat later this month.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued saying the closed retreat violated the Open Meetings Act.

After hearing arguments for almost two hours, Judge Daniel Procaccini issued a preliminary injunction, allowing the public to hear the portion of the retreat discussing NECAP testing.

The lawsuit filed against the Rhode Island Board of Education by the American Civil Liberties Union does not address the merits of a new test-based graduation requirement, focusing instead on a procedural issue. The ACLU’s local director, Steve Brown, said he is still hoping the board will reconsider the testing policy and move to reverse it.

The complaint alleges the board failed to properly respond to a petition from the ACLU and several other groups seeking to stop the policy, which requires students to show partial proficiency on tests of Math and English to earn a diploma.

The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to announce details of a lawsuit Wednesday over the state’s high school graduation policy. The suit stems from a new requirement that students show partial proficiency on standardized state testing to qualify for a diploma.

The ACLU and other groups have asked state officials to reconsider the policy, arguing that it overwhelmingly impacts minority and low income students.  Statewide, roughly 4,000 students failed to meet the testing bar during their junior year.

A vote Monday at the State Board of Education may create a leadership void at a key moment for opponents of a new test-based high school graduation requirement.

Those opponents have lined up some 20 people from the state’s higher education community to testify at Monday’s meeting, but they may be overshadowed by a vote to turn State Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso into the state’s Interim Commissioner of Higher Education. Governor Lincoln Chafee announced Mancuso as his choice for the post on Friday.

State Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso says she remains firm in her support for test-based graduation requirements. Mancuso says she wants the board to study whether the standardized test known as the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, is the best test to use, but she denies backing away from high-stakes testing.

"We haven't backed off from that at all," Mancuso said. "We're just looking to see if there's a measure that's better to show proficiency, other than just the NECAP."

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.