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In Light of PARCC Results, a Dozen Groups Call on RIDE to Prevent Any Punitive Use of Scores

Posted: November 20, 2015|Category: Students' Rights

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Responding to the release of PARCC test results on Tuesday, a dozen organizations today called on the state Department of Education to immediately reverse its policies that allow school districts to use PARCC scores in a punitive manner against students as early as next year. The organizations called the reversal “a necessary step to promote a meaningful discussion of alternative graduation standards in the months ahead.”  The groups’ statement follows below:

“Though not surprising, the test results released this week show that using PARCC as a graduation requirement would have barred the vast majority of Rhode Island students from receiving a diploma.  Worse, and just like the NECAP, it would have disproportionately affected students of color, students with disabilities, and ESL students in a devastating manner.

“Commissioner Ken Wagner has acknowledged a need to reexamine the use of high stakes testing and to consider alternative measures. We agree, and we appreciate the fact that he has started an important dialogue on the issue.

“Unfortunately, something important has been left unsaid: RIDE policies initiated by former Commissioner Deborah Gist give school districts the power to incorporate PARCC scores into students’ grades as early as next year, and to also use the test as a high stakes graduation requirement for the Class of 2017 even though RIDE often talks about test results not having such an impact until 2020. As long as the imminent use of PARCC scores to punish students remains on the table, the anxiety and controversy that this testing and its predecessor, the NECAP, have generated will not fade away. These policies serve as an ongoing barrier to focusing on other approaches and to encouraging a more constructive dialogue in our shared goal of promoting equal educational opportunities. 

“Earlier this month, we sent a letter to Commissioner Wagner expressing our concerns about the Gist policies and urging their swift rescission. We do so again, as we believe it is a necessary step to promote a meaningful discussion of alternative graduation standards in the months ahead.

“Finally, we note that our long-standing concerns about high stakes testing echo a growing consensus at the federal level that there has been too great a focus on testing. Questions also remain about the PARCC’s validity in measuring student learning, particularly for certain student groups that consistently underperform on standardized measures, and the number of states using the PARCC test has dropped considerably in the past two years.

“We look forward to participating with the Department in the conversation it has initiated on high stakes testing, but we hope to do so without the current specter of punitive test usage looming over Rhode Island’s students.”

This statement was issued by the Coalition to Defend Public Education, NAACP Providence Branch, RI Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, ACLU of Rhode Island, Young Voices, RI Disability Law Center, Providence Student Union, Providence Youth Student Movement, Parents Across Rhode Island, RI Teachers of English Language Learners, Youth Pride Inc., and the George Wiley Center.

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