Governor Declines to Veto High Stakes Testing Moratorium

Jul 2, 2014

A bill halting a controversial test-based graduation requirement will become law without a signature from Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Chafee declined to sign the bill but also declined a veto.

The bill bars the use of standardized test scores for a high school diploma until at least 2017. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who opposed the bill, vowed to keep pushing school leaders to improve student performance.

"Given the change in law, we will continue working with school leaders and teachers to make sure students still receive the support they need to improve their achievement levels and to be ready for success in college and in challenging careers," Gist said in a written statement.

The test-based graduation requirement was supposed to take effect this year, and schools around the state scrambled to help students with low test scores improve during their senior year. Gist says the result was higher test scores for thousands of students, especially in mathematics.

"Because of that effort, more than 2,000 students significantly improved their performance in mathematics and at least 95 percent of all high-school seniors met the state-assessment graduation requirement," Gist wrote.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union cheered what it called "the demise of NECAP." The ACLU says the state test was never intended as a high school exit exam and the policy was diverting too much attention from classroom teaching.

"It was a test that never should have been used for high-stakes purposes, that diverted too much classroom time from real teaching, and that appeared to be more accurate as a measure of a student’s socio-economic status than of their academic abilities," ACLU of Rhode Island Executive Director Steve Brown said in a statement.