high stakes testing

The State Department of Education says roughly 95 percent of this year's high school seniors have met a controversial new graduation requirement involving test scores. Nearly 500 students met the requirement by getting a waiver from their school districts.

Most high schools have already held graduations, but RIDE says it does not have a final number for how many students were prevented from receiving diplomas because of the testing requirement. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist told RIPR students can still appeal graduation decisions.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has declined to comment, at least in person, on Providence's waiver of the testing portion of the state's diploma system for roughly 200 seniors. She did provide the following written statement to RIPR, via email.

Providence is granting a reprieve to some 200 high school seniors, who risk not graduating under a new state policy linking test scores to a high school diploma.

The rule, in effect for the first time this year, calls for students to score partially proficient or better on the NECAP test or improve significantly on a retake. Students can also use alternative tests or acceptance at a competitive college to earn their diploma.

Rhode Island’s House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare has scheduled testimony Wednesday on a bill seeking to reduce the use of “out of school” suspensions in public schools.

The bill would also require education officials to collect and analyze discipline data to determine how policies are affecting minority students.

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The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hear testimony Wednesday on a bill that would ban test scores as a high school graduation requirement. A state policy requiring test scores has come under fire from critics, who say it is unfair to low income and minority students. But State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has been a strong supporter, arguing that it will ensure that no student graduates from a Rhode Island high school without basic knowledge of math and English.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is releasing additional results from the standardized test known as NECAP. The report will include school-level data for all Rhode Island public schools, and comparisons to other New England states using NECAP.

At the end of February, the Rhode Island Department of Education released an abridged summary of NECAP results, revealing scores for seniors facing a new test-linked graduation requirement. The early release was intended to give schools and students time to prepare if they did not do well enough to earn a diploma.

The latest NECAP scores show more high school students reaching proficiency in both reading and mathematics, although math scores continue to be lower than state officials might like.

The Rhode Island Department of Education says 36 percent of high school juniors scored proficient in math in 2013, up from just 27 percent in 2009. 81 percent scored proficient in reading, up from 73 percent in 2009.

In her annual State of Education Address, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist revealed that 73 percent of this year’s senior class has met a new requirement tying test scores to a high school diploma. Just 60 percent of students had met the bar prior to re-taking the test in October.

“Lets not lose sight of the magnitude of what Rhode Island has accomplished,” Gist said. “More students today are ready to graduate, and they are much more ready to succeed beyond high school.”

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner Deborah Gist emphasized the positive in her annual State of Education speech last night at the General Assembly. She said Rhode Island students are improving on national testing, and she said 73 percent of this year’s senior class has now scored high enough on the state standardized test to earn a diploma, after thousands of students had to re-take the test in October.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island Education commissioner Deborah Gist delivers her annual State of Education address Thursday.  Standardized test scores for thousands of RI students come out Friday, and some 4,000 high school seniors will find out whether they did well enough to graduate. This is the first year test scores are linked are required under a new sate policy, and some students are protesting.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist plans to deliver her annual State of Education address Thursday at the Statehouse. The speech comes just hours before the state is slated to release the latest round of standardized test scores, which are due out Friday morning.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Thousands of high school students across Rhode Island learn this week whether they improved enough on a standardized test to earn a diploma. The state is releasing NECAP scores for all students, including 4,000 high school seniors who had to re-take the test. One of them, Providence Senior Ruth Presendieu stopped by our studio to talk about what it’s like to be a member of the first Rhode Island class whose graduation is linked to standardized testing.

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 Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has completed a survey of school districts and their policies to grant waivers from a controversial test-based requirement for high school graduation.

The ACLU finds that some districts have no finalized waiver policy, while others are confusing or arbitrary.

Long an opponent of linking test scores to a high school diploma, the RIACLU has written a letter to the state board of education, renewing its call for a review of the test-based graduation requirement.

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.

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