Six organizations that have fought to end the use of high stakes testing in Rhode Island today commended lawmakers on the significant impact of a new law imposing a three-year delay on the use of such testing as a graduation requirement. The organizations’ response was prompted by recent comments from some Rhode Island Board of Education officials who suggested the moratorium was unnecessary.

In a letter to state legislative leaders, the groups – the NAACP Providence Branch, the ACLU of Rhode Island, Providence Student Union, Young Voices, RI Teachers of English Language Learners, and Parents Across Rhode Island – said that the moratorium impacts far more than the students who received diplomas this year:

“The law achieves, and was always designed to achieve, many other important goals. For instance, it has the tremendously beneficial impact of eliminating the charade that school districts had to go through this year of handing out more than 1,000 supposedly ‘extremely rare’ waivers in order to bypass the NECAP mandate. The elimination of the hypocrisy surrounding this requirement – in which RIDE constantly came up with more and more exceptions to the rule in order to avoid the mandate’s real consequences – would alone be reason enough to extol the virtues of the new law.”

“But perhaps its most important impact is in ensuring that, at least for the next three years, teachers won’t have to waste hours and hours of classroom time teaching to an irrelevant test, and students won’t be dragged out of real classwork in order to spend pointless hours cramming for a meaningless standardized test.”

The groups noted that the Board’s assertion that only one student has benefitted from the moratorium this year is contradicted by documents showing at least three other students received diplomas after the moratorium went into effect.

The letter also mentioned that the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association has passed a resolution expressing support for the moratorium.

The letter concluded by stating: “We remain grateful for the General Assembly’s action in passing this important law. The Board of Education’s continued recalcitrance in accepting it only highlights why it was so necessary.”