Adults Failed the NECAP…What Does It Mean?
According to Kim Kalunian’s story on 630WPRO.com, 30 out of 50 of the adult test takers received a score that wouldn’t allow them to graduate from high school. At least on the first try.
However, what does that tell us? Does the correlation say that these people who scored poorly will not be a success in life? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of success. One might question whether being elected to the General Assembly is a “success.”
But one of the troubling parts is when State Representatives like Larry Valencia and Teresa Tanzi come out with quotes that can be construed by the high school students to mean that the test should not be important. Valencia was quoted:
“I was good at math. I took trig, statistics, pre-calculus. I have a degree in chemistry. I think the test is very unfair. It doesn’t represent what the average high school student should know.”
Ok, so Rep. Valencia thinks the questions are irrelevant. Has he gone around to ask high school math teachers what they think of the questions on the test? How about the committee that creates the questions? Or are his statements a little less-informed?
Also, Representative Teresa Tanzi said:
“As one of the many capable and relatively accomplished participants who scored ‘substantially below proficient’ on this exercise, I do believe this points to a problem with our state’s new diploma system.”
Problem with the diploma system? Any rational person can construe those remarks to mean that she doesn’t think the test should be a requirement for graduation. At least, that is one of the points that the Providence students were trying to make with this event.
The question that I have here is whether people think there should be a minimum set of requirements in mathematics and reading comprehension in order to earn a high school diploma.
And don’t forget about this little fact:
In 2010, over 60% of recent high school graduates enrolled at CCRI must be placed in remedial courses; most of these students will not earn a degree.
Our students are failing the NECAP and CCRI is telling us that our high school graduates need remedial work to even take a normal college workload. Yet, we have students and state legislators downplaying the importance of the NECAP. It would seem that the NECAP is at least a minimal indicator of student readiness for college-level work.
Yes, something is broken in Rhode Island’s education system, but I really don’t think the problem is with the NECAP requirement to graduate. Maybe the problem is with the teaching and/or learning.
In yesterday’s GoLocalProv, there was an article about a student who didn’t pass the math portion of the test on her first try. She felt she wasn’t prepared by her school in Coventry for the questions on the test:
“We had a math packet in the summertime to go over and it wasn’t counted as a test or a quiz, it was an optional thing that you had to do,” she said. “I did it but on that little packet, I didn’t understand any of it. There was nothing about Algebra on the packet, there was only stuff about Geometry and there wasn’t anything you had to solve, it was all multiple choice questions.”
Gobin says her school went over the packet on the second day of class and then shifted its focus to Algebra II exclusively. When she took the test, she said, it included trigonometry and other subjects that her class is just getting to now, five months after the NECAPs were administered.
If all of that is true, that’s a failure of the curriculum at the school. If the state’s board of education and other leaders feel the questions on the test are relevant for students to know at the time of the test, then the school should adequately prepare the students for the test.
As many have now said, the best thing to come of all this is that people are aware of it and talking about it. There should be no quick and easy answers. We’ve known for some time that education in Rhode Island was falling behind and needed to be fixed. Maybe now with this new spotlight, we can find the true causes and get to work on fixing them.