ACLU Sues RI Board of Education to Take Up Testing Requirement

Jul 24, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union claims Rhode Island’s Board of Education broke the law when it failed to consider a petition over high-stakes testing as a requirement for a high school diploma. The lawsuit has a narrow focus and is unlikely to settle controversy over the graduation policy.

The ACLU is asking the court to order the state Board of Education to respond to a petition, requesting a change in high school graduation requirements. The rules affect thousands of public school students who now have to show partial proficiency on the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, to get a diploma.

Providence senior Priscilla Rivera discussed the stress of not knowing whether she will be able to graduate.
Credit Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

East Greenwich parent Jean Ann Guliano said the burden of accountability is falling too hard on students. “With 4,000 students not passing the fall NECAP the first thing we should have asked is why,” Guliano said, “and the second thing we should have asked is did these children have an opportunity to learn the material.”

Despite these concerns and others, the ACLU lawsuit does not address the merits of the test-based graduation policy. It calls for the Board of Education to address the petition by denying it or agreeing to hold public hearings.

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