Superintendents: Refusal of PARCC exam could impact schools’ federal funding

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — In just four days, thousands of Rhode Island students will be taking a new standardized test, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam.

Many students won’t be taking the test though, because their parents are refusing to let them participate. Rhode Island doesn’t have a formal policy that allows students to opt out of taking the exam, and with so many refusing to take it – school superintendents around the state were forced to respond.

Some of their responses unfortunately only led to further confusion, and many parents believed them to be scare tactics.

In a letter sent to Warwick parents, it says their child “will receive a zero on the test.” A letter from the Barrington school superintendent says a child who does not take the PARCC test may “severely compromise their ability to graduate.”

“Until I see a drastic improvement, my children will not be participating in any standardized test that this state has to offer,” said Chandra Dee Massey of Warwick, who, like many parents, is refusing to allow her kids to take the test next week.

12 things Rhode Islanders should know about the PARCC exam >>
12 things Rhode Islanders should know about the PARCC exam »

Late Thursday morning, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) clarified for Call 12 for Action that any student refusing to take the test would be considered a “non-participant, and would not receive a score.”

Several school superintendents made it very clear that decision could result in a loss of federal funding for certain schools, which are required to have at least a 95% participation rate.

“As a result, it puts that school in a category in ‘warning,'” said Warwick Superintendent Richard D’Agostino. “It does have an impact on schools, and RIDE and the federal government will have to deal with it.”

A spokesman for RIDE said the department does not believe funding will be comprised if students refuse to take the test.

Regardless, many parents are concerned.

“There’s so much left to interpretation and no real direction, and there’s no time to allow us to have a voice to plan, and that’s the biggest headache with this,” Massey added.

Legislation was proposed that would allow parents to have their children opt out of the PARCC test. As of right now, taking the test is not a graduation requirement.

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