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Posted at 1:47 PM ET, 01/26/2011

How a single test can change a child's life --a must-see video from Rhode Island

By Valerie Strauss

This inventive video on YouTube refers to proposed new high school graduation requirements in Rhode Island that, starting in 2012, would require that all students score at least "partially proficient" on standardized tests.

The tests are called NECAP, or New England Common Assessment Program. Students are tested in reading, writing, math and science at various grades, though 11th-graders take all the tests. Requiring all high school students achieve a specific score turns these exams into high-stakes measures, something for which NECAP was not designed, critics say.

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By Valerie Strauss  | January 26, 2011; 1:47 PM ET
Categories:  Standardized Tests  | Tags:  graduation requirements, graduation test, necap, rhode island, rhode island schools, standardized tests  
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Comments

Absurd. This goes back to allowing a student to determine life after high school at about the end of the 10th grade. If the student decides college is not in their crystal ball, then by all means let them take a test at the end of their senior year to determine "life skills" and let it go. If on the other hand students choose college, the provide the opportunity to complete the SAT or whatever exam is required.

Again, supposing we keep a 25% undergrad rate among the population, then clearly we need to address the 75% not wanting or completing college. Who looks out for them? It certainly is not academia.

Posted by: jbeeler | January 26, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Absurd. This goes back to allowing a student to determine life after high school at about the end of the 10th grade. If the student decides college is not in their crystal ball, then by all means let them take a test at the end of their senior year to determine "life skills" and let it go. If on the other hand students choose college, the provide the opportunity to complete the SAT or whatever exam is required.

Again, supposing we keep a 25% undergrad rate among the population, then clearly we need to address the 75% not wanting or completing college. Who looks out for them? It certainly is not academia.

Posted by: jbeeler | January 26, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Great video....think the artist,writer,producter, etc. deserve credit for making such accessible points in just a few minutes.

Communication skills are rarely mentioned in their relation to education, yet are often linked to success in future employment.

I know an epidemiologist (masters' degree, next to a medical doctor in knowledge)who is giving a presentation to other medical and health professionals in which about 50% of the presentation uses carefully chosen images and humor to get his points across.....he is a seasoned presenter and says that he himself cannot stand to attend lectures where the presenter basically just reads from a prepared text or only uses bullets to get his/her points across.....
.....and, this is very relevant to '21st' century learning in which we are increasingly bombarded by information. Well-chosen images, charts, etc. make certain information easier to absorb.

Hmmmm....think the video presents a good case to see more art, speech, drama incorporated into our 21st century learning.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | January 26, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

There are a couple things the makers of this video are leaving out. Testing has been going on through the entire school life of a child. You will know earlier than even 7th grade if your child is a poor test taker or if they have an area they are not proficient in. You have plenty of time to tackle the problem without giving up Orchestra, Auto shop etc.
However, the problem is the parents don't want to give the hour a day it takes to work with their kid on their weaknesses.
Nearly ALL universities have general ed courses that will test students and you cannot get any degree without at least the very basic math and English classes passed- and those WILL have exams.
There are also always decent colleges that will accept a GED if everything else(grades, essays etc) looks good and if your child cannot pass even the GED then they will never succeed in secondary school anyway.

Posted by: Bowedoak | January 26, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

A one day high stakes test is a flawed concept. Students may take tests everyday of their school career and be successful, but on that one DAY accidently skip a page; answer the question on the wrong line of "bubbles", skewing the rest of the answers; have a fight with mom/dad/friend; not feel well...etc. Life for a adolescent is too fragile to make one moment of time be the determiner for a future.

Posted by: hope1st | January 26, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Bowedoak: No, you might not know that your child is a poor test-taker. A student might do very well on other tests and do poorly on this one because the people who made it up are incompetent. Did you see the "Answer Sheet" blog with the quiz about the errors in the Virginia history tests and did you read the comments explaining why an answer would be wrong if you know more than the basic history or was wrong in any case a question was ambiguously worded? These are exactly the problems with standardized tests. Even if they are made up well, they may be printed and proofread by a test preparation company that outsources its work to India or another such country.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | January 26, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

and their are students in the state of md that pass HSA as requirements to graduate without problems

so, your point is what?

Posted by: PGCResident1 | January 26, 2011 9:10 PM | Report abuse

apologies to above commenters; my comment was directed toward Ms. Strauss

Posted by: PGCResident1 | January 26, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

A high school diploma should indicate some level of knowledge. If you can't score partially proficient on this exam, perhaps another designation more accurately would represent your knowledge.

I do think a single score is a bit limiting though. I'd rather see people's scores posted on individual topics, like my kid used to get on a Montessori school report card. Can they multiply fractions? Can then calculate percentages? Can they comprehend technical manuals written at an 8th grade or 10th grade level?

Posted by: staticvars | January 27, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't Virginia have high school exams like this? How is this program any different?

Posted by: rrap1 | January 27, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

What happens if a student can score "partially proficient" on the exam while still a freshman or sophomore--or even younger? Granted, it might not happen too often, but it is perfectly possible.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | January 27, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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