At a work session today, the Rhode Island Board of Education's Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is considering revised Secondary School Regulations that would allow local school districts to adopt high stakes testing as a graduation requirement once the moratorium on such testing ends in 2017, creating a system in which Rhode Island students are held to different standards based solely on where they live. As the regulations had been originally proposed, a high stakes testing moratorium would have uniformly been in place across the state until 2020.
The ACLU of Rhode Island has long called the use of standardized testing as a graduation requirement flawed and inappropriate and has worked with student and education groups to end the use of high stakes testing in Rhode Island. Allowing school districts to administer their own high stakes tests will only lead to the same problems seen with the state's now delayed requirements. Such testing will divert valuable learning time to preparing for a single test; will continue to have a discriminatory impact on students who are poor, English Language Learners or racial minorities; and will remain an arbitrary standard for determining who should and should not graduate. Even worse, the local implementation of such testing will place these pressures and requirements on students of one school district while students who happen to live in a neighboring district do not face such arbitrary requirements in order to graduate.
In its early comments on the revised regulations that would delay the state's implementation of high stakes testing until 2020, the ACLU noted that delaying the implementation of high stakes testing only delays the inevitable dispute over the requirement. The ACLU continues to call for the elimination high stakes testing altogether.