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The Graduation Myth

Posted by: Commissioner Deborah A. Gist on 11/1/2013
We continue to see and hear a lot of misinformation about the Diploma System and standardized assessments. To continue to advance the public discussion of this important issue and to ensure that everyone understands the facts about our Diploma System, I want to post another Truth about NECAP here on the Commissioner’s Corner: 

Is it true that students have to pass the NECAP in order to graduate?

No. The truth is that students who score partially proficient or better when they take the NECAP in grade 11 have met this graduation requirement. Those who have not yet met the graduation requirement will have two opportunities to retake the NECAP again in their senior year. If they improve their score, they have met this graduation requirement – regardless of their performance level. 

RIDE has also approved 10 other assessments, including the PSAT and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, that students can use to meet this graduation requirement. 

In addition, waivers are available for students for whom – for any reason – tests of any kind are not a good measure of their abilities. 

In short, students who “pass” the NECAP in grade 11 – that is, who score partially proficient or better – have met this graduation requirement. If they also meet the other graduation requirements (course completion, performance-based demonstration of proficiency such as a senior project, any local graduation requirements) they will earn a diploma. 

But what about the students who don’t “pass” the NECAP in grade 11? 

First of all, our schools must offer additional coursework and instruction to all students who score “substantially below proficient” – and they have done so. This summer, every high school in Rhode Island offered some form of support or additional instruction for students needing extra help, particularly in mathematics, and this commitment to supporting our students has continued during the school year. 

After students receive this additional help, they can meet this graduation requirement by showing improvement when they retake the NECAP. Students can also meet this graduation requirement by passing any of the 10 other approved assessments. Finally, school districts may provide waivers for students unable to demonstrate their true achievement level through standardized assessments. 

Our goal is ensure that all of our students receive the instruction and support they need for success beyond high school. Let’s make our high-school diplomas meaningful – that’s a policy truly in the best interest of our students and of our state!

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