Battle over high stakes testing begins anew

Jan 28, 2013

A group calling itself the Providence Student Union will ask for an end to high stakes testing this week. Starting with the class of 2014, Rhode Island students will not be allowed to graduate unless they get a score of "partially procficent" on the standardized test known as the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).

Critics of the new policy say it is unfair to students and warn that diplomas will be denied in massive numbers if the rule is not changed. The testing requirement will hit hardest for low-income and minority students and students in urban public schools.

Supporters of the testing policy, including State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, say the goal is to make sure students achieve a minimum level of proficiency in Math and English before they graduate from high school.

The required test score is a two, which represents only partial proficiency. The state is planning to let students re-take the test if they fail to pass the first time, and students will be able to graduate if they show significant improvement. Under this scenario, it would be possible to earn a diploma without achieving the minimum test score.

Organizers from the Providence Student Union say they will bring students, parents and other opponents of the testing policy to the statehouse Wednesday to ask Governor Lincoln Chafee to remove testing as a graduation requirement.

In the past, protests against the testing policy resulted in a delay, allowing schools more time to consider how they will help students in danger of not graduating.