The ACLU of Rhode Island has joined two dozen community organizations in asking the Rhode Island Board of Education to rescind the regulation that conditions the receipt of a high school diploma on passing a "high stakes test." Although the groups have diverse reasons for opposing the measure, they all agree that the mandate is poor policy and will likely have devastating effects for thousands of students who deserve a diploma.
In yesterday's letter to state's new Board of Education, the groups stated:
"As a result of that high-stakes test requirement, 40% of the Class of 2014 -- more than 4,000 students -- are at risk of not graduating next year. Immediate action is critical in order to address the uncertainty and anxiety facing these students and their families."
"Before the fate of these students is sealed, we wanted to make sure you were aware of the impact of high stakes testing, and urge you to find more effective strategies for education reform. Your newly constituted Board has not had the opportunity to consider the full consequences of this previously adopted mandate but, in light of its potentially devastating impact, we believe it is incumbent upon you to do so."
"…There are other research-proven strategies to improve student outcomes that should be the focus of educational reform efforts. We also take issue with the notion that retests and “alternative” testing will adequately address this problem. In addition, last-minute attempts at remediation by school districts are “too little, too late.” We strongly urge you to reexamine this issue at the earliest possible opportunity before too much more damage is done to our students and our educational system."
Other signatories to the letter include The Autism Project, College Visions, the George Wiley Center, the NAACP, Providence Student Union, Providence Youth Student Movement, Rhode Island Legal Services, Tides Family Services, and the Urban League of Rhode Island.