Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 6, 2008

Making tests count

Filed under: NECAP — Editor @ 3:46 pm

Back in March, we published a request for inputfrom Angus Davis, member of the RI Board of Regents.  The jist of the issue is this:  We graduate 96% of our students, yet only 22% can score a 62.5% on the math test.  This is because the test actually counts for “less than 10%” of the gradation requirements.  The Board of Regents asked for input and the response you provided was magnificent.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a group of education professionals has opposed this change.  They want test scores to count for less, not more.  Creating less accountability.

Pasted below is another request from Mr. Davis.  I would also suggest that you could write a letter to the Providence Journal at letters@projo.com.

RI Regents Consider Graduation Requirements and NECAP Test

In recent weeks, a group opposed to testing students has sent several emails asking the Regents “reconsider” our plan to make the NECAP count towards graduation in Rhode Island.

The NECAP is a test of 10th grade skills given in 11th grade, with multiple subsequent opportunities to re-take the test through 12th grade. Our proposed high school graduation requirements would make NECAP just one of three elements in deciding a student’s eligibility for a Regents Diploma, along with grades and a final senior project or portfolio.

This week, an Op-Ed from the “National Center for Fair and Open Testing” (“FairTest”) appeared in the ProJo to oppose the Regents actions. FairTest is opposed to tests, and in the last few years has become, in the words of education policy analyst Education Sector, “an anti-NCLB propaganda machine more than a testing group.”

Opponents decry tests like the MCAS in Massachusetts, claiming if we raise our expectations of students, children will drop out and teachers will be forced to focus on “irrelevant” skills that lack meaning in today’s 21st century workforce. As a reminder, “irrelevant” skills we test for on NECAP are reading, writing, and basic mathematics.

These arguments do not hold water. First, despite the MCAS in Massachusetts, high school graduation rates there have actually gone UP in recent years, not down. Massachusetts outperforms Rhode Island on almost every measure, including the speed at which they are closing the achievement gap. Second, those asking us to lower our bar are mostly education establishment people, rather than parents. I am still waiting for the email that says, “Dear Regent Davis, I would really prefer that my child not learn how to read, so please don’t make that a requirement for her graduation.” (Understandably, some parents of children with special needs are concerned, and our plan calls for exceptions in those cases). Last, the proposal in Rhode Island would make NECAP count, but it would not yet be “all-or-nothing” or “high stakes” as is the case with MCAS; a student could still graduate in Rhode Island even if they fail the NECAP.

Most parents are demanding a more rigorous school for their children, and rightly so, given the increasing competition they face for jobs in the global economy. If you support the Regents effort to make NECAP one of three components of the graduation requirements, alongside grades and a senior project or portfolio, I encourage you to come to tomorrow’s Regents meeting (May 7, 4pm, Shephard Building, 255 Westminster Street, Providence) and give public comment to that effect. You can leave the meeting after making your comments, which normally conclude by 4:30. Your voice would help to counterbalance those who ask us to lower the bar, expect less, and make excuses.

May 7 Board of Regents Meeting Agenda and Details

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4 Comments »

  1. Why of course, why not stop any and all requirements for graduation? After all, we Americans only have to compete on a global basis, and all of the other countries score better than we do. Why not throw in the towel, and announce that we score lower and learn less than many third world countries. We don’t work as hard, expect as much of our children, and consider “Helicopter Parents” the norm. We consider delayed adulthood a right, and responsibility and moral expectations of young adults not “fair”. We have declining productivity, and an inability to compete, so why NOT drop any measure for high school graduation. Let us just admit we no longer have the guts, the ability, or the ambition to make things right, to do justice to our founding fathers, or to compete in a global market. We can just continue our fall, lie in our beds, sell our country to those who wish to succeed and sink into our self made abyss.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — May 6, 2008 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Board of Regents,

    Why Oh Why would anyone consider lowering hard fought for increased standards for graduation? Why shouldn’t students be expected to pass a Math test, especially when multiple efforts are allowed? Why are we not seeking improved performance, especially when we seek to compete globally?

    I ask that the Board of Regents require that students take and pass this math exam in order to assure that at least basic skills are achieved. Failing to require passage of this objective exam limits the capacity of some students, by limiting their standards of education. Failing to require continuing achievement in high school dooms students to failure not only in their ability to function in society, but in their ability to conquer tasks required for any higher level blue collar employment which require an adequate use of reading and math. Plumbers, electricians, builders, carpenters, and mechanics are examples of trades that require an ability to read, write, and use math to solve real work problems associated with their trade. Heavy equipment operators must calculate grades and run offs. Farmers must rely on math to solve real problems regarding coverage, dosing and mixing of various types of treatments and feeding of crops. I could describe many other trades and positions which require these skills, but not a college education. These positions simply require a basic, well taught high school education, and that includes math. Let’s not cheat our children of their future. Require that students demonstrate proficiency in math in order to graduate high school.
    Sincerely,

    Dorothy Gardiner

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — May 6, 2008 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  3. Bravo Ms. Gardiner! The same nitwits who equate money with education ignore the power of expectations. I wonder how they manage to parent their children when they are obviously clueless as to what motivates children? Graduation standards need to be raised, not lowered.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 7, 2008 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  4. The latest scores are out and yes folks we have improved!

    I let you be the judge of how well we have improved.

    http://newsblog.projo.com/2009/01/providence-stat-2.html#442864

    Comment by RS — January 22, 2009 @ 7:10 pm | Reply


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