In a big victory for the Providence Student Union, the Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a three-year moratorium on the use of a high-stakes graduation test. The vote was 63-3. A similar bill was passed earlier by the State Senate. The legislation now goes to Governor Lincoln Chafee.

The PSU engaged in numerous acts of political theater to demonstrate their opposition to the use of a standardized test as a graduation requirement. They held a “zombie march” in front of the Rhode Island Department of Education, they invited accomplished professionals to take a test composed of released items from the NECAP test (60% failed), they delivered a “state of the student address,” and they found many other creative ways to dramatize their cause. They proved to the world that kids today are amazing!

The Providence Student Union issued this statement:

“Today, the Rhode Island House of Representatives took a powerful step toward improving education statewide by approving H-8363, a three-year moratorium on the misuse of the NECAP exam as a high-stakes graduation requirement. The bill echoes S-2059 passed by the Senate on May 14th. If signed by Governor Chafee, these bills will ensure that no students from now through the Class of 2017 will be barred from graduating simply because of their score on the state assessment.

“We are so excited by this huge step, and grateful to everyone – students, parents, teachers, legislators, and more – who worked so hard to make this possible. We urge Governor Chafee to side with Rhode Island students and families and sign this moratorium into law,” said Providence Student Union student leader Sam Foer.

“This victory caps the Providence Student Union’s two-year campaign to change Rhode Island’s high-stakes testing graduation requirement and increase public demand for more student-centered alternatives. From zombie marches, guinea pig rallies, and the “Take the Test” event, to State House testimonies and meetings with the Governor, Speaker of the House, and more, the Providence Student Union’s youth membership designed and delivered a highly effective advocacy campaign that those involved attest was key in winning this passage.

“Yet students agree this legislation is just the beginning. As PSU student leader Cauldierre McKay said, “The Providence Student Union will continue to focus on winning the truly high standards, the investments, the student-centered learning, the rigorous performance-based assessments, and the meaningful opportunities all students deserve.”