Rhode Island to Adopt New State Assessment Service Providers
Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) and College Board Tests (PSAT/SAT) Aligned to Current Rhode Island Grade-level Learning Standards and Expectations
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) announced today its intention to adopt new assessments, starting in the 2017-2018 school year. These assessments will continue to measure student progress on Rhode Island’s current grade-level learning standards and expectations while cutting overall testing time.
For students in grades 3 through 8, the state is in advanced discussions with Massachusetts to use the “RICAS,” a Rhode Island administration of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). At the high school level, the state will use the PSAT and SAT to meet federal testing requirements.
The move to update assessments comes as Rhode Island drafts its State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind, and implements a comprehensive strategy for education as delineated in legislation passed last year by Deputy Majority Leader Gregg Amore (D-East Providence).
“This approach will provide continuity in the classroom for teachers and students, maintain high quality assessment information about student progress, build a long-term partnership with a high performing neighboring state, and further decrease testing time. The short-term impact will be small, but the long-term benefits have the potential to be significant,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Ken Wagner. “Taken together, this combination of RICAS and PSAT/SAT provides us with the best, most consistent measure of student progress, without placing undue burden on students or educators.”
“Economic and workforce development starts in our schools, and we continue to make huge strides in connecting classrooms to careers and providing students with the skills, opportunities, knowledge, and support that they need,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “This is another piece of the puzzle, which will align Rhode Island to our neighbors in Massachusetts and set students on a path to success.”
The transition will affect only the state assessment tools; grade-level expectations and graduation requirements will remain the same, which means that teachers will not have to change their approach to classroom instruction.
Moreover, RICAS and PSAT/SAT testing are less time intensive than the current PARCC assessments, and the RICAS will be administered using the same online test platform as the PARCC. Some of the test questions on the RICAS were developed by PARCC, and remaining questions were developed by Massachusetts, a nationally recognized leader in education. Utilizing the Massachusetts assessment will provide Rhode Island with transparent, easily transferable data so educators can better understand what is working and what needs improvement.
“Rhode Island has high standards and expectations for all of our students, and by shifting to this system of assessments, we can have a better understanding of how our students are performing now, and what goals we must set to help them be successful in the future,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education.
“Massachusetts is a national and international leader in education. Aligning our assessments to theirs will raise expectations for Rhode Island’s K-12 education system. This long overdue initiative will foster the accountability necessary to move us to higher levels of achievement,” said Timothy Duffy, executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees.
“Our members are looking for stability. They want RIDE to select an assessment program that is aligned to our curriculum and then stay the course. This decision accomplishes those goals while giving our state a sustainable path forward. Using the SAT and PSAT at the high school level and partnering with Massachusetts in grades 3-8, we are using recognizable, successful assessment instruments that will be understood and supported by parents, teachers and the community,” said Dr. Timothy Ryan, executive director of the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association.
“The question I have, on any initiative or policy, is, ‘does it help teachers?’ I’m hopeful that this shift will lighten some of the burden on our teachers and provide them with a clear, long-term plan that supports and enhances their important work,” said Frank Flynn, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals.
“From a student perspective, I think this is the right choice and the right direction for our state. This will mean less time spent testing at both the elementary and secondary levels. At the high school level, it removes the stress of preparation for two standardized tests. Using a test that students will need for higher education that also provides our state's education system with valuable information is a win for all,” said Colby Anderson, chairperson of the Rhode Island Student Advisory Council and a senior at East Greenwich High School.
For more information on the new system of assessments and how they will be implemented in Rhode Island, visit the RIDE website. Sample MCAS test materials are available on the MDOE website.