Gist: High Stakes Testing Moratorium Is A Delay

Jul 3, 2014

Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island's Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is not giving up on efforts to link test scores to a high school diploma. Gist says a new state law barring the practice until 2017 is a delay, but she is still expecting the policy to take effect three years from now.

"While I'm disappointed about this because I feel confident that we are where we need to be to carry this out, I understand the decision," Gist told RIPR during an in-depth interview. "We are going to take a little bit more time, but what we're not going to do is lower our sense of urgency."

The moratorium on high-stakes testing takes effect without Governor Lincoln Chafee's signature. Lawmakers passed the bill citing concerns that the state test known as NECAP was not intended as a high school exit exam and that waivers were given to some students but not others.

Gist defends the use of waivers and denies that a test score would have prevented deserving students from getting a diploma.

"We should never be making a decision about a student or any other decisions about individuals based solely on one test score," Gist said.  "We never designed it that way, we never carried it out that way, and so when this policy goes back into effect, it won't be carried out that way either."