standardized testing

The Providence Journal reports this morning that standardized testing is not mandatory for Rhode Island students. While that is technically true, it is also true that Rhode Island has no official procedure for parents and students to opt out of annual testing, and parents may encounter significant resistance if they attempt to do so.

Elisabeth Harrison

New test results show just 23 percent of Rhode Island 8th graders scored proficient or better in science,  a decline of seven percentage points from last year.

Some individual schools and districts also saw steep declines in their scores.

Education officials held off on releasing the results of the NECAP Science test while experts conducted an independent review of the test and the scoring. 

But in the end, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said they found no evidence this year's test was more difficult than last year.

Rhode Island has been granted a one-year extension to its waiver from the federal education law known as the “No Child Left Behind” Act. The law required schools to get all students to proficiency on standardized tests by this year.

Average SAT scores are in for the class of 2014.

The good news is Rhode Island's average improved by 5 points in both reading and mathematics. The State Department of Education says this is the first time scores have improved significantly since 2009.

More than 6,000 public school students took the SAT in the 2013-2014 school year, scoring an average of 484 in mathematics and 483 in critical reading.

For those of you waiting with baited breath for the latest NECAP Science test results, here's an update.

The Department of Education says they continue their discussions with testing company Measured Progress about the scores from the latest round of testing, which took place back in May.

The issue seems to be a drop in scores at one grade level, which schools in several NECAP states have noticed, according to The Providence Journal.

Rhode Island’s Department of Education has delayed the release of test scores from the most recent standardized state science test, administered in May.

RIDE officials say they have concerns about the scores for one grade level and will not release a score report expected on Wednesday.

RIDE Spokesman Elliot Krieger declined to elaborate about the exact nature of the concerns, but he says RIDE is working with the testing company, Measured Progress, to review the results.

With concern growing over the amount of time students spend on standardized testing, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has launched a review of state and local testing practices. Gist says she wants to address complaints from parents and teachers about over-testing.

“None of us wants to test students too much, and each of us can consider ways to streamline the assessment process,” Gist wrote in a letter to superintendents announcing the review, adding that the goal is to eliminate assessments that do not advance teaching and learning.

Rhode Island, along with all other states, is being asked to submit new “teacher equity plans,” to the U.S. Department of Education. Originally created in 2006, these plans are designed to insure that poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates by inexperienced or unqualified teachers.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is praising Rhode Island for its work implementing its original plan.

Rhode Island’s House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare has scheduled testimony Wednesday on a bill seeking to reduce the use of “out of school” suspensions in public schools.

The bill would also require education officials to collect and analyze discipline data to determine how policies are affecting minority students.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A trial run for the new standardized test known as the PARCC exam begins in Rhode Island next week. The test is slated to replace the annual NECAP in 2015, as public schools transition to a new set of standards called the Common Core.

A growing group of parents, teachers and others continue to raise questions about test and the Common Core. They are calling on Rhode Island lawmakers to stop the initiative in a movement that mirrors similar anti-Common Core efforts around the country.

Testing the Test

Mar 18, 2014

In school districts across Rhode Island, some 9,000 students are about to get a taste of the test replacing NECAP next year. The students are participating in field testing for the test, known as PARCC, starting next week.

PARCC is slated to be used in 17 states. Rhode Island's Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says the field testing comes as designers refine the exam, and will give teachers, administrators and students a chance to prepare for next year.

The New SAT

Mar 6, 2014

The College Board has announced changes to the SAT, a test many high school students have suffered through on their way to college acceptance.

Critics of the test, and there are many, say it is an unreliable predictor of student performance in college, and some colleges, including Salve Regina University in Newport and Bryant University in Smithfield, have stopped requiring SAT scores from their applicants.

Rhode Island elementary students are still well behind their peers in New Hampshire when it comes to Mathematics.

The latest score report from the New England Common Assessment Program shows 59 percent of Rhode Island’s 3rd-8th graders were proficient in Math, compared to 70 percent in New Hampshire.

60 percent of Maine students scored proficient in Math and 62 percent in Vermont.

More Rhode Island students are taking Advanced Placement tests, but they are not passing at the same rates as their peers around the country.

The College Board has just released its annual report on AP testing. The study shows that nearly 2,500 members of Rhode Island’s class of 2013 took an AP exam, up from roughly 1,000 in 2003. The number represents more than a quarter of all high school graduates.

But as the number of test takers has increased, the percentage of students passing the exams has fallen.

Concerns about public education in China are fueling an increasing interest in alternative schools like Waldorf education. The trend is profiled in a fascinating New Yorker article now on newsstands.