Gist says diploma system allows retesting to meet requirements

STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER Deborah A. Gist has clarified the department's position on high school students who are not deemed at least partially proficient on the NECAP tests – they may retake the tests in order to meet their graduation requirements.
Posted 2/19/13

PROVIDENCE – State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist has sent a letter to “friends of education” explaining her support for new graduation requirements following the recent release of 2012 New England Common Assessment Program results that showed about 4,100 students – 40 percent of the total number tested - at risk of not graduating.

“For too long we have awarded diplomas to students who have not acquired basic proficiency in mathematics and reading,” said Gist in the letter. “These graduates soon learn they are not prepared for college or careers.”

She noted that it is a graduation requirement to score at least “partially proficient” on NECAP Grade 11 assessments in math and reading. Students who failed to reach that score can take the test again in October and again in the spring of their senior year, if necessary.

They can still meet the graduation requirement if they fall short of partially proficient, as long as they show some improvement in their test results, she said. The 4,100 at-risk students scored “significantly below proficient,” according to the letter. Gist spokesman Elliot Krieger on Tuesday said the number of at-risk students is 40 percent of the total number of high school juniors who took the test.

“I do not believe that one test alone should determine whether a student is ready to graduate,” Gist said in her letter. “We must measure student growth and achievement using many sources of evidence, including state assessments.”

Krieger said the letter was sent to a mailing list compiled by Gist from attendees at public forums, as well as school superintendents and others.

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