More than a third of Providence high school students who took the NECAP test in October may not have taken either the necessary algebra or geometry classes to fare well on the test, according to the Providence Student Union. A full13 percent of NECAP test takers haven’t taken either algebra and geometry in school, the two prominent disciplines on the math NECAP.
“How can the commissioner possibly think it is fair to hold kids answerable for material they haven’t been introduced to yet?” said Ken Fish, the former director of middle and high school reform for the state Department of Education, which has made the NECAP test a new graduation requirement. “How can the Board of Education go ahead with this diploma system when the evidence against it continues to grow and grow? This is an unethical policy, and it needs to be put on hold.”
Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has come under intense scrutiny as of late for pushing ahead with an unpopular proposal to use the NECAP test as a graduation requirement. The Providence Student Union, a group of urban high school students who advocate for a student-centric education, have led the protest.
“It’s really just confirmation of what we have been saying all along,” said Monique Taylor, a member of the Providence Student Union and a student at Central High School. “The NECAP is not aligned to our curriculum, so lots of students are being held ‘accountable’ for things we haven’t even been taught yet. How does that make any sense at all?”
Tom Sgouros, writing for this blog, has done substantial research to show that the NECAP isn’t meant to be used as a graduation requirement and that it isn’t an effective tool in measuring individual student performance. His reporting has also shown that RIDE and Gist have tried to cover up these points. Today, he reported that RIDE changed the description of the NECAP’s on its website to better fit how it wanted to use the test.
PSU members they plan to collect course data from other districts to show that in other urban school districts students aren’t getting the necessary course training to perform well on the NECAP tests.
“The information we have is from Providence, but I bet we’re not the only district with a bunch of students who’ve been set up to fail like this,” said Hector Perea, another PSU member and a student at Hope High School. “We plan to try to get data from other cities, as well, to show how truly ridiculous RIDE’s current policy is.”