The State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote tonight on new rules for high school graduation.
The proposal would finalize a delay in the use of of standardized test scores for a diploma until 2020.
Test scores were supposed to become a requirement last year, but state lawmakers voted to pause the rule until 2017 after an outcry from some students, teachers and community groups. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist then proposed extending the delay until 2020.
The Rhode Island Board of Education has released dates for a series of hearings on delaying high stakes testing until at least 2020.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers halted a plan to introduce standardized test scores as a graduation requirement for the class of 2014. The legislation puts off the use of testing as part of the state's diploma system until 2017.
The legislation prompted State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist to propose waiting until 2020 to introduce high stakes testing. The Board of Education is now considering the new timetable.
The head of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says he welcomes any further delay in linking test scores to high school graduation.
ACLU of RI Director Steve Brown says waiting until 2020 could give schools more time to address systemic problems and intervene with struggling students. But Brown says he remains concerned that the State Department of Education is simply delaying a policy that would hold students accountable for the failures of their schools.
In the wake of a General Assembly decision to delay standardized testing for a high school diploma until 2017, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is now suggesting that the policy be pushed back even further to 2020. Rhode Island Public Radio Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison asked Gist what made her change her position after arguing vigorously that Rhode Island should start linking test scores and diplomas this year.
Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is recommending more delays for a policy linking standardized test scores to a high school diploma. Gist says she now believes the policy should remain on hold until 2020.
The comments may come as a surprise after Gist championed the test-linked diploma for months despite increasing pressure from some students and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who said the policy was unfair to low-income students and students with disabilities.
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."
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.
Governor Lincoln Chafee says he is still considering whether to sign a bill that halts a controversial policy linking test scores to high school diplomas.
"We're still looking at it and talking to advocates on both sides," Chafee told RIPR on Friday, as he signed a bill making calamari the state's official appetizer.
Supporters say students should have to demonstrate minimum skill levels in reading and writing before they are awarded diplomas. That was the reasoning behind the policy, which mirrors a similar rule in Massachusetts.
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has promised to make time in her schedule to discuss new developments at the General Assembly, including a bill that orders a halt to standardized testing as a requirement for a high school diploma.
Gist has advocated in favor of keeping the testing policy, which she says is will ensure that students graduate ready for the challenges they may face after high school. But lawmakers voted to halt the use of exit exams until at least 2017, citing concerns about students with disabilities, among other issues.