All this month, high schools across Rhode Island are holding graduation ceremonies, and there are many students who defied the odds to get to their graduation day. One of them is 18-year-old Rosa Ramos of Providence, who just got her diploma from the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex.
The Rhode Island Department of Education is preparing for a large number of next year's senior class to fail their second attempt at meeting a new test-based graduation requirement.
According to a state contract with testing company Measured Progress, RIDE has ordered 3,500 versions of a retest for seniors. That represents a majority of the roughly 4,000 seniors who will attempt the test for a second time this fall.
The Rhode Island Board of Education is expected to vote tonight on a contract extension for State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist. She’s been weathering heavy criticism over the last few months from some parents, students and teachers, who complain that she ignores their concerns about all of the changes happening in Rhode Island public schools. One of the most controversial issues has been a new policy of standardized testing as a requirement for a high school diploma.
A controversial new state policy says high school students in Rhode Island need a score of 2 or better on standardized state testing to graduate. That’s only partially proficient, but thousands of students didn’t make the grade when they took the test last fall. School districts are now working to get those students up to speed so they can meet this new requirement. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison sat down with a district official and a Math teacher in Cranston to find out how it’s going.
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is working out terms for an extension of her contract. The controversial Gist is expected to remain at the helm of the state Department of Education.
Education Commissioner Deborah Gist led the team that brought Rhode Island a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant. But she’s also been criticized for shepherding in an era of tough teacher evaluations and high stakes testing as a graduation requirement.
Freelance policy analyst and liberal blogger Tom Sgouros is one of a number of critics raising questions about Rhode Island's use of the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, as a graduation requirement. Specifically, Sgouros has argued that by its very nature, NECAP was designed to magnify differences in student achievement, thereby ensuring that a certain number of students will score poorly every year.
A group of Providence students is asking prominent Rhode Islanders to take the standardized test known as the NECAP this weekend, as they work to demonstrate why it should not be used as a graduation requirement.
"We hope to lend a deeper perspective to debate about the new high stakes testing graduation requirement," says 16-year-old Classical High School student Cauldierre McKay, a member of the Providence Student Union. The group has been pushing state officials to reconsider their policy on graduation requirements that go into effect for the class of 2014.