Advocacy Groups Support Legislation to Halt Use of "High Stakes Testing" on Rhode Island Students

February 8, 2012

Advocacy Groups Support Legislation to Halt Use of "High Stakes Testing" on Rhode Island Students

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Today, a dozen organizations that work closely with children and families who are poor, minority, non-English speaking, or who have disabilities or other barriers to learning, expressed their strong support for state legislation that would eliminate the drive to implement “high stakes testing” in Rhode Island. “High stake testing” refers to the use of state assessments to determine whether or not a student may graduate, and is currently scheduled to go into effect in 2014 under regulations adopted by the state Department of Education.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Eileen Naughton and Sen. Harold Metts, would prevent the use of statewide standardized test assessments as a barrier to graduation. Civil rights and advocacy groups have long been critical of the use of “high stakes testing,” releasing statistics last year – and which have not improved since – that documented that approximately 90% or more of students classified as special education, limited English proficient, economically disadvantaged, Latino or African-American would receive either no diploma or one designating them only as “partially proficient” if high stakes testing had been in effect for the Class of 2011. Pursuant to the legislation, state assessments would only be used for their original intended purpose: to identify schools, school districts and individual students who are struggling in order to provide them with the supports and interventions necessary for high achievement.

The groups expressing support for the legislation were the Urban League of RI, Mental Health Association of RI, RI Disability Law Center, Parent Support Network of RI, Young Voices, RI ACLU, RI Legal Services, RI Teachers of English Language Learners, Children's Policy Coalition, LEP/ELL Advisory Council, Autism Project of RI, and Tides Family Services.

The groups noted that despite the state’s push for high stakes testing, the supports that have been mandated to assist struggling students towards proficiency are not in place. The legislation would statutorily require the intervention that the state regulations also require, but that have been honored in the breach.

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