Protest High-Stakes Testing Wednesday At State House

Are you fed up with the standardized test-ification of our public schools? Think that high-stakes testing has distorting effects on education? Or do you just believe that it is wrong to punish individuals for larger systemic failures?

If you answered “yes” to any of these question, then be sure to join the Providence Student Union this Wednesday at 4:00pm at the State House for a press conference protesting Rhode Island’s new high-stakes testing graduation requirement!

Rhode Island is currently implementing a new high-stakes testing graduation requirement that requires students, starting with the class of 2014, to get a certain score on the NECAP to receive a diploma (a test, by the way, that was not designed to measure individual achievement). The Providence Student Union believes this policy will do nothing to improve our schools, while doing a great deal of harm to a great many students. 

Last year, 44 percent of students statewide did not score high enough to have graduated, with even higher rates in some of our more vulnerable populations (for example 86 percent of students with disabilities and 94 percent of English Language Learners in Providence did not score high enough last year to have graduated under this policy). In addition to unfairly punishing all of these individual students, we know that policies like these increase teaching to the test, particularly in the districts with the lowest scores–so the schools that most need engaging, creative learning will turn even more to drill-and-kill test prep.

For these reasons and more, members of the Providence Student Union, along with other high school students, teachers, parents, and community members are speaking out. Come add your voice this Wednesday at 4:00pm at the Statehouse!

We will be delivering messages to Governor Chafee, so if you cannot make it Wednesday but still want to make your voice heard on this critical issue, feel free to send us a short message you would like us to deliver to the Governor at:

Related posts:
  1. Protest RIDE’s High-Stakes Testing Policy Thursday
  2. High Stakes Testing: Not So Hot

Aaron Regunberg is a community organizer in Providence and a candidate for state representative in House District 4.

14 responses to “Protest High-Stakes Testing Wednesday At State House”

  1. jgardner

    Do liberals/progressives share that same disdain for standardized testing when it comes to professional licenses?

    1. PinkHatLib

      The same disdain? No. But perhaps I would if the government suggested using periodic, high-stakes medical licensing tests as a method for evaulation and ongoing process improvement of physicians, hospitals, patient outcomes, etc.

      1. jgardner

        If a standardized test shouldn’t be used to evaluate a student’s understanding of high school topics, why should it be used to determine an electrician’s doctor’s understanding of electrical topics?

        1. jgardner

          lol… i wish I could edit my reply. please disregard “doctor’s” in the above response.

    2. PinkHatLib

      See Cambell’s Law

      “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

      *** quote ***

      What Campbell also states in this principle is that “achievement tests may well be valuable indicators of general school achievement under conditions of normal teaching aimed at general competence. But when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways. (Similar biases of course surround the use of objective tests in courses or as entrance examinations.)” [emphasis in originial]

      *** end quote ***

      btw, I don’t think standardized tests are such a great way to evaluate physicians, plumbers, etc. but as per Campbell’s Law I also don’t see that the way they are being used is distorting the system.

      When was the last time you asked a plumber what his/her test score was? Did you pay extra based on the response?

      1. jgardner

        “I also don’t see that the way they are being used is distorting the system.”
        Because they way they influence the system is largely behind the scenes. Professional licenses are used primarily by existing players in a market to increase the barriers to entry in order to restrict competition, allowing those players to charge higher prices. Consider the medallions one must purchase at a very high cost in order to operate a cab in NYC.
        Politicians also like professional licenses because it’s a way for them to raise money. Consider the Contractor’s Registration Board in RI. It’s not a licensing board, but you can’t legally operate as a contractor in this state unless you’ve registered and paid your fee. The benefits to the consumer of the board are limited at best.
        “When was the last time you asked a plumber what his/her test score was?”
        It’s not about whether you asked your plumber his test score, it’s that the plumber couldn’t legally operate unless he passed all the license exams and paid his various fees and all the other onerous requirements. Ever thought that someone wouold have to get a license to be a floral arranger?

  2. leftyrite

    The average student going to Brown for a medical degree or to RWU for a legal diploma is not giving up his or her chance at a fuller education in order to do so. They get to interact with the broader world of art, music, and the humanities in a university environment. They don’t see their sports programs cut for testing monies.

    Not so in many Rhode Island public school communities. We hear constantly about tight money, but we seldom see in monetary terms the costs of these mandatory tests (which private schools are not forced to administer,) the efficacy of these tests–see Aaron’s statement about NECAP being used for purposes for which they were not designed, or the psychological/emotional impact of all of this testing pressure, exacted over years, on the health and self-esteem of kids.

    I went to school in a far freer world, one in which America was clearly at the top of the heap. We learned and had our share of fun and then entered the workforce because the state and the nation could provide jobs. Then, from Reagan on, we got consciously sold out by what passes for finance. (Not subject to downsides, however; too big to fail.) And the economy was rifled for more leverage and for more speculation. That’s really what happened.

    Public education is still a wonderful idea. You can see that obviously in the more affluent communities, and still, in pockets of the poorer ones.
    Helps home prices, too, not to mention the entire area, in every aspect.

    Stop corporate agents, like Duncan, Rhee, and Gist from killing public education to further their own agendas. Why do they get so much money and tv time? 

    Where is their learning, incidentally? Ever heard them speak?  

    A charter school is the same thing as a corporate school, which, by the way, is not subject to those onerous testing mandates. Wonder why.

    An intentional drawback, maybe?

    This subjugation and unfair treatment of public schools is wrong.

    People can, should, and will fight back.   

    State House / 4:00 /  Wednesday 

  3. nev

    You can’t draw a serious parallel between public school testing and testing for a specific certification. That’s one of those off-the-cuff one liners that works only if you don’t put a second thought to it.
    Furthermore, the assertion that progressives are against all standardized tests is dubious.

    1. jgardner

      We have standardized testing for students in school to determine if they’ve achieved a certain proficiency in high school topics and we have standardized testing for students of different professions to determine if they’ve achieved a certain proficiency in their topics. How is that not a serious parallel?

  4. Thom Cahir

    To jgardner’s comment. No, none of us should object to professional testing. However, to get to that point, a student needs to learn critical thinking skills. And when teachers are forced to teach the students to pass a single test, the time needed for students to learn those critical thinking skills are used up on memorization. Do you really think churning out a bunch of drones is better for the labor market and entrepreneurial spirit?

    1. jgardner

      Why shouldn’t you object to professional testing? If I hired a plumber that passed a test (which may or may not have anything to do with what he does every day), does that guarantee a better outcome than  if I hired someone who did not take that test?

  5. leftyrite

    You can raise a kid in the public schools for thirteen years. 

    No rhetoric; reality. 

    During that time, a child will become well-acquainted with the

    values and attitudes of the community, both good and bad.

    From many teachers. From many coaches. From changing curricula. 

    But, most importantly, that kid will be connected in

    some fundamental way with the republic

    for which our flag stands.

    So much more important than the credentials to go corporate.

    Republic, remember?

    Elected officials. Remember?  
    School board. Remember?

    America, nation state. Remember?

    You privateers want to usurp meaningful power because

    you crave as many unfair advantages as you

    and your supervisors can finagle. 

    Instant pricing, yours for the co-optation.

    Cheap labor leading to degraded standards.

    And salespeople and cheerleaders in charter schools. Countrywide Academies.

                                  I don’t think that you can do this mass privatization in a legitimate way.

    All you’ve shown so far is a rigged game.

    Politics, money   warping values and humanity.

    Geithner. Duncan. Issa. With the threat of worse.

    We know what you have made.

    What have you built? 


    Look at your performance, marketeers. Hedge funders.
    Over the counter soda fountain operatives. 

    Can you pass the Krugman/Stiglitz test?

    They’ve only won economics Nobels in recent years.  Eggheads!!

    have those truly elite credentials.
    And they’ve been tested through the floor–for you to ignore.

    Be honest, but more importantly, truly care about your own country
    and your own republic, like they do.

     We are free to think for ourselves.
    We are free to think for ourselves.
    We are free to think for ourselves.

    (Don’t worry about punctuation and spelling. Speak your mind and your heart. Why not?)


  6. DogDiesel

    “Last year, 44 percent of students statewide did not score high enough to have graduated, with even higher rates in some of our more vulnerable populations (for example 86 percent of students with disabilities and 94 percent of English Language Learners in Providence did not score high enough last year to have graduated under this policy).”

    I’m not sure the answer is dumbing down the requirements. We’re talking a high school education. Not a college education or technical certification. In and era where unemployment is somewhere around 4.5 percent for college grads versus 24 percent for high school grads, do we want kids to be prepared to enter college or a technical school if they so choose? How do you measure that preparedness without a standardized test. Anything else would be subjective and prone to high post secondary failure rates. All high schools should demand more from students then just slothing through to get a diploma.

    1. PinkHatLib

      “do we want kids to be prepared to enter college or a technical school if they so choose?”

      Standardized tests don’t do anything to prepare students for that, quite the contrary. If you want to more kids to get into college or techical school, why not simply measure that? That’s better than pretending that we can evaluate a student, teacher, school, or adminstrator based on a test score.

      “How do you measure that preparedness without a standardized test?”

      How about the same way students were evaluated for centuries before someone created optical scanning machines? Clearly no one knew who the best students were back then! What a problem that must have been.

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