Providence Introduces New Waivers from Testing Requirement

May 28, 2014

Providence is granting a reprieve to some 200 high school seniors, who risk not graduating under a new state policy linking test scores to a high school diploma.

The rule, in effect for the first time this year, calls for students to score partially proficient or better on the NECAP test or improve significantly on a retake. Students can also use alternative tests or acceptance at a competitive college to earn their diploma.

Providence Superintendent Susan Lusi says more than 800 members of the current senior class had to retake NECAP, and there are still nearly 270 who have not met the requirements for graduation.

“Right now we’re really faced with a very fundamental issue of fairness,” Lusi said. “Because the vast majority of those students have scored as high or in some cases higher than a peer who is graduating.”

How is that possible? Well, under the state policy, a student can graduate if he or she shows statistically significant improvement on NECAP. In some cases, however, the student's actual test score may remain quite low.

Meanwhile, another student may have a higher overall score, but may not have improved enough to be considered eligible for graduation.

Calling this an inequity, Lusi recommended and the Providence School Board approved a policy allowing students to graduate if their NECAP score is at least as high as the lowest improved score of any graduating senior.

"As a parent myself, I can't imagine being told my child was not going to graduate if he or she had scored as well or better than someone who was," said Lusi.