Yesterday it was students in Portland, Oregon, today it’s students in Providence, Rhode Island.
The students in Providence have called on Governor Lincoln Chafee to stop the new high-states tests.
The students warn that huge numbers of students with disabilities, English language learners, and minority youth will not get a diploma. They blame these results on years of underfunded schools that did not provide the support that students need.
Here is an excerpt from the story:
“We are here today to explain why we believe this graduation requirement will do nothing to improve the quality of our schools or our education,” said Priscilla Rivera, a member of the youth organization the Providence Student Union (PSU) and a junior at Hope High School. “Instead, it will cause real harm to the lives of many students like me.”
Starting with the class of 2014, Rhode Island’s new policy requires students to score at least “partially proficient” on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) in order to graduate from high school. Students stressed the widespread implications this policy could have, pointing out that last year, 44 percent of all students across the state did not score high enough on the NECAP to have graduated under the current requirement. Seventy-one percent of black students and 70 percent of Latino students in Rhode Island did not score high enough last year to have graduated, and in Providence, 86 percent of students with disabilities in Individualized Education Programs and 94 percent of students with limited English proficiencies would not have graduated.
“We believe in high expectations,” said Kelvis Hernandez, another PSU member. “We believe that we should graduate with a high-quality education. But this policy is not the right way. Punishing students—particularly those who haven’t had the opportunity to receive the great education we deserve—is neither effective nor just. It is ineffective because we have spent 10, 11, or 12 years in schools that are underfunded, under-resourced, and unable to give us the support we need to do well on the NECAP. And it is unjust because the students who have received this inadequate support are the ones being put on trial.”
“Speakers at the press conference also pointed to other harmful effects of high-stakes testing. “Test prep is not what we mean when we say education,” said Dawn Gioello, a family member attending the press conference in support of her niece. “I want my niece to be going to school to learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to become a young woman with the confidence and abilities to succeed in college and her career. I don’t want her to go to school to get really good at taking this one test so that she will be able to graduate. I don’t want her whole school experience—her curriculum, her class work, her time after school—to become dedicated to drilling for one exam when she will need so much more than that to achieve her dreams in life.”
“What’s even worse,” added Tamargejae Paris, a junior in high school and a member of PSU, “the NECAP was not designed to be used as a high-stakes test. The makers of the NECAP themselves have said that the test should not be used as a graduation requirement.”
Why do students make more sense than policymakers in Washington and the state capitals?
Students in Providence: Take a tip from students in Portland: Boycott the tests.