Students protest NECAPs; ‘We’re not guinea pigs’

Photo: Kelly Sullivan/WPRI 12
Photo: Kelly Sullivan/WPRI 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dressed as guinea pigs and lab rats, members of Providence’s Student Union converged on the Rhode Island’s State House to protest high-stakes testing.

They say tying performance on the NECAP standardized test to a high school diploma is an untested experiment that treats students like test subjects.

The NECAP – which is also administered in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire – is given to students grades 3 through 8 and again in 11th grade. Beginning with the class of 2014, students must score “partially proficient” on the math and English portions of the test or show growth when they retake the exam in order to earn a diploma.

As of October 2013, approximately 4,000 students – roughly 40% of 12th graders – must improve their scores on the NECAP in order to be eligible to graduate.  In Providence, more than 80% of students at four high schools—Alvarez, Central, Hope and Mount Pleasant—have to retake the test.

Students who fail to earn a qualifying score in the 11th grade have the opportunity to retake the exam twice during their senior year and are eligible to use scores from other tests – such as an AP exam, the SAT or the Accuplacer – in order to meet the requirement. Students only need to show improvement when they take the NECAP exam in 12th grade – meaning they could still graduate without showing partial proficiency on the test.

In addition to the NECAP component of the graduation requirements, students are also required to complete course work, as well as performance assessments such as a portfolio or senior project, to prove they are qualified to receive a diploma.

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