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NEARI Calls for End to Standardized Testing

In a vote, NEARI delegates voted to take a stand against NECAP testing and issues relating to the Common Core curriculum.

Local association leaders of the National Education Association of Rhode Island voted last week to "take a firm stance" against high-stakes testing and the Common Core curriculum.

More than 100 representatives were on hand at NEARI's triannual delegate assembly meeting.

In a release, they called for three specific actions:

1 – The immediate end to the use of NECAP testing. Rationale: Contradicting its own emphasis on rigorous standards, RIDE has now spent money on three different NECAP tests, allowed the use of 10 alternative tests, and allowed districts to develop waivers for students to meet their graduation requirements. Additionally, as districts transition to Common Core State Standards, there is little education value in giving a test while instructing students using a different set of criteria. 

2 – A moratorium on the use of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing as a graduation requirement and teacher evaluation tool. Rationale: Teachers, principals and superintendents have raised concerns that districts will not have the time necessary to adequately prepare curriculum for PARCC testing prior to using it as a basis for evaluation of both students and teachers. Availability of necessary resources and technology for full implementation is also a concern.

3 – A thoughtful, collaborative approach to the development of curriculum to meet CCSS (Common Core State Standards). Rationale: The input of educators in the development of appropriate curriculum to meet the standards is essential, yet the RI Board of Education and RIDE continue to press forward without the participation of classroom professionals.

“We understand and support the commissioner’s request to the US Department of Education regarding a waiver until 2017 for PARCC to be part of teacher evaluation, but believe we need to go further," said NEARI President Larry Purtill. 

“We have the following concerns: that curriculum will not be aligned yet to the test and should be done locally and in collaboration among districts; that resources are not yet in place to ensure that the needs of all students can be met; that schools are ready with the technology to administer the test; and that CCSS doesn’t become the only focus of our education system at the expense of all other opportunities.”

Purtill believes that the value of NECAP testing has been undermined by the wide availability of alternative testing.

 “Now that RIDE has given the test three times, offered 10 alternative tests, and created a waiver system, it is quite clear that NECAP has lost any real educational purpose. At what cost, both to students and taxpayers, have we instituted such relentless testing?

“It is time, starting today, for the Board of Education and RIDE to listen to educators, students and parents and stop charging forward blindly with a test that clearly is not working," he said.

Jean Ann Guliano March 25, 2014 at 08:25 PM
Tom, I'm not opposed to testing. Far from it. It's a great way to track progress, inform instruction, find out what works and what doesn't, etc. As you point out, proper testing is a necessity in so many arenas. What I do oppose is the use of standardized testing for major decisions effecting individual K-12 students - decisions like graduation or promotion - without balancing test results with other factors. I particularly object when students have not had equal access and opportunity to the learn the material on which they are being held accountable. I also strongly object when students with disabilities and students with limited English are tested and punished because the results reflect their disability (or language barrier) and not what they know. I suppose that's my agenda. I can't just sit back and do nothing while kids get taken advantage of. It's a character flaw!
Tom Badger March 25, 2014 at 09:56 PM
There is no excuse about limited English as why are they here to be a burden ? I'm saying this as my dad and his 9 brothers and sisters first language was not English but they had a rule in their house that said "once outside English was the only language spoken and that was law. Though they spoke their native language fluently one would never know this . ESL ? Should be outlawed with the burden of learning English to be put on their parents . Most legal immigrants learn English long before they arrive here and so do their children. You do have an agenda and not just what you reveal . When the parents take advantage of a system that is not even theirs what do you call that ? I call it theft .
Jean Ann Guliano March 26, 2014 at 09:41 AM
Tom, I don't necessarily speak about it, but if I do have an agenda its a personal one. My very bright, hard-working son, who happens to have autism, is at risk of not graduating next year because of his NECAP scores. In doing the research to help advocate for him, I have discovered how extremely unevenly and unfairly this policy has been implemented and executed - particularly for students with disabilities, English language learners and students who are economically disadvantaged. I cannot in good conscience only advocate for my own son without advocating for all students who are being treated unfairly. If you think I have another agenda, I have no idea what you think it would be. With regard to English language learners, speaking fluent English is not a graduation requirement.
EG March 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM
I believe Jean Ann represents those with disability including her own children who might have learning challenge. This is my understanding from her previous blog/comments. Please correct me if my understanding is wrong. I support a different form of the testing for those with disability. We can't discriminate those with disability, Period. ESL is a different topic. Supreme Court has already ruled in the past.
Jean Ann Guliano March 26, 2014 at 03:35 PM
True, EG. In fairness, though, other states that use exit exams have much better ways of supporting ALL students with learning challenges. For example, most states provide at least 4 opportunities for students to retake the test prior to the end of 12th grade. RI only gives them 2 retakes. The only other two states that provide 2 retakes (NJ & NM) also give students the opportunity to submit additional performance based assessments so their entire fate isn't resting on tests. And, yes, other states DO provide much more in terms of alternative or modified assessments, accommodations and supports for students with disabilities. In RI, apparently, by denying diplomas to students with disabilities, we prove that we have higher standards.

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