Gist: More Students are Ready to Graduate

Jan 31, 2014

In her annual State of Education Address, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist revealed that 73 percent of this year’s senior class has met a new requirement tying test scores to a high school diploma. Just 60 percent of students had met the bar prior to re-taking the test in October.

“Lets not lose sight of the magnitude of what Rhode Island has accomplished,” Gist said. “More students today are ready to graduate, and they are much more ready to succeed beyond high school.”

The graduation requirement calls for high school juniors to earn a score of “partially proficient” or better on the NECAP standardized test to qualify for a diploma. Those who fail can re-take the test as seniors and must show improvement, or submit another test to demonstrate proficiency. Waivers are also available from school district leaders.

Gist delivered her address against a backdrop of growing criticism for some of her signature initiatives, including adopting the Common Core Standards, the use of comprehensive annual teacher evaluations, and the test-based graduation requirement. Roughly 4,000 seniors had to re-take the NECAP in October, and roughly 20 percent of this year’s senior class still has not met the testing requirement.

Still, Gist delivered a largely positive message, saying Rhode Island’s public schools are improving. She also announced an ambitious initiative to introduce dual language programs in every district by 2020.

State officials are scheduled to release today the latest graduation rates and NECAP scores for all students. The test of Math, English and Writing is administered to all 3rd-8th graders and 11th graders each October.