While the Board of Education’s agenda for last night’s meeting says it is being sued by the Providence Student Union, the lawsuit is actually being brought by East Greenwich parent Tina Egan, who says the using the NECAP test as a high stakes graduation requirement discriminates against her daughter with Down syndrome.
I think perhaps the Board may want it to seem as if it is being sued by activists rather than by a parent whose daughter is disabled. In any case, here is the testimony Egan gave last night:
I urge you to accept the Petition and rescind high stakes testing as a graduation requirement for the class of 2014 and beyond.
1. My daughter is a member of the class of 2014 and a person who was born with Down syndrome. Throughout her academic career in RI public schools, she has been in an inclusive educational model learning side by side with peers without intellectual disabilities. Her aim has been in sync with her peers – earn a diploma and head out towards adulthood as a member of her community.
2. Like all her peers in school, she took NECAP tests. However, unlike the peers without intellectual disabilities, even with her best efforts on these standard tests, she did not attain a score of partial proficiency in math or reading. Now she retakes the tests twice more but the high stakes test will be an insurmountable barrier to a diploma and the next stage of life in an inclusive world and community.
3. Our state is in the national spot light today because of the Department of Justice settlement forcing the shut down of discriminatory practices relating to the treatment of persons with disabilities. Employment First policy is being implemented and young adults with intellectual disabilities are finally getting the opportunity to be a part of our state’s work force. We hear endless stories of adults with Down syndrome working successfully in jobs that require a high school diploma. These jobs fuel the economy as well as bring pride, social engagement and economic freedom to these individuals.
4. The RIDE high stakes testing policy flies in the face of Employment First and preclude individuals like my daughter from performing any of the wide range of entry level jobs that require, or simply prefer, candidates with a high school diploma. Unless RIDE rescinds the high stakes test policy, young adults in Rhode Island will be shut out of an array of employment opportunities for which they are qualified based on their skills and abilities – is that a result we want?
Thank you for your considerations.