high stakes testing

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.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Last week, Rhode Island education officials told districts they would recommend waiving a controversial part of the state’s high school graduation requirements for students who get into college.

Those students will be allowed to receive their diplomas, even if they don’t get the minimum score required on the state standardized test known as NECAP.

The change has touched off another round of questions about whether Rhode Island should use standardized testing at all as a requirement for a high school diploma.

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.

One of the most contentious issues in education remains high-stakes testing. In Rhode Island most of the strum and drang revolves around the New England Common Assessment Program Test.

This year, for the first time, R.I. high school seniors will have to pass the NECAP test to get a diploma. But the Rhode Island Department of Education, with little fanfare, on January 3rd issued a waiver policy that has been slowly circulating among education wonks and professionals around the state.

Flo Jonic

As the candidates officially launch their 2014 bids for governor, I plan to ask each of them to lay out their positions on top education issues. I started with democrat Angel Taveras.

As mayor of Providence, Taveras joined several state lawmakers in speaking out against a policy tying the standardized test known as NECAP to high school graduation. Taveras says his concern was with the test itself, not the principal of tying testing to a high school diploma.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

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.

Paul Stein JC

Standardized testing is underway in Rhode Island public schools, where students take the New England Common Assessment Program or NECAP every October. The tests of math and reading are administered to grades 3-8 and 11 between October 1st and the 23rd. This year some 4,000 12th graders are also taking the test and must improve their scores to meet the state’s controversial new test-based graduation requirement.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is keeping up the heat in its opposition to the NECAP test as a requirement for high school graduation. The ACLU has filed a third legal action against what it calls a lack of process in retaining the controversial test.

For the third time in less than two months, the ACLU of Rhode Island has taken legal action against the state Board of Education for violating open government laws in dealing with the NECAP test.

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.

The Rhode Island Board of Education has voted not to take up a state policy tying test scores to a high school diploma. In a 6-5 vote, the board ruled against a petition critical of the rule, which takes effect for the current senior class. The policy requires students to achieve a score of at least partially proficient on standardized state testing or improve on a retake to earn a diploma.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

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.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

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.

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.