All this month, high schools across Rhode Island are holding graduation ceremonies, and there are many students who defied the odds to get to their graduation day. One of them is 18-year-old Rosa Ramos of Providence, who just got her diploma from the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex.
The State Board of Education will reconsider a graduation requirement that says students must score partially proficient or better on a state test to get a diploma. Several advocacy groups have filed a formal petition with the board asking it to rescind the testing policy. The petition triggers a 30-day deadline for the board to respond.
The groups joining the petition include the Providence Student Union and local chapters of the ACLU and NAACP. They argue that high stakes testing is unfair, putting some 4,000 students at risk of not graduating.
The Rhode Island Department of Education is preparing for a large number of next year's senior class to fail their second attempt at meeting a new test-based graduation requirement.
According to a state contract with testing company Measured Progress, RIDE has ordered 3,500 versions of a retest for seniors. That represents a majority of the roughly 4,000 seniors who will attempt the test for a second time this fall.
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has turned down a request from students for a public debate over high stakes testing. The invitation came from the Providence Student Union, a student advocacy group operating in Providence Public Schools.
The group plans to hold a protest vigil at the Department of Education with candles, dirges and other symbols of mourning. Organizers say the demonstration is meant as a “tongue in cheek display of mourning for the expected ‘death’ of Education Commissioner Gist’s reputation.”
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist urged lawmakers to pass a series of bills aimed at improving school safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting during her State of Education speech on Tuesday. She also urged passage of the governor’s budget which increases funding for public schools, colleges and universities.
Schools close as budgets stretch and buildings age
East Providence is closing Oldham Elementary School citing the high cost of upgrading the building. The district has faced serious deficits in the past, contributing to municipal financial woes. The Providence Journal reports that district officials Oldham would have needed an estimated $2 million in renovations to stay open. As a result of the closure, some students will be shifted to other schools.
State education officials are defending standardized testing as a graduation requirement starting with the class of 2014. Students opposing so-called "high stakes testing" staged a protest yesterday at the Statehouse.
State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist responded by saying her goal is to make sure students finish high school with the right skills for college or a career. If the testing rule took effect this year, 44 percent of seniors would be at risk for not graduating.
A group calling itself the Providence Student Union will ask for an end to high stakes testing this week. Starting with the class of 2014, Rhode Island students will not be allowed to graduate unless they get a score of "partially procficent" on the standardized test known as the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).