Dozens of Rhode Island legislators, city officials, and other adults will take a version of the state’s high-stakes standardized tests for students to focus attention on a new state graduation testing policy that is threatening to hold back large percentages of students.

The action is being organized by the Providence Student Union and will be held this Saturday at a public library in Providence. Aaron Regunberg, executive director of the student union, wrote in an email:

Students are trying to push back against the idea that a single test score can measure the entirety of a person’s value, worth, and future success by inviting objectively successful people to take the test themselves and see how they do. We have already had some elected officials and community leaders take it — and not score high enough to graduate — and this Saturday we’re doing a whole event where students will be proctoring and administering the test to a large group of accomplished adults.


This year, Rhode Island is implementing a new policy that uses the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP as a high-stakes testing graduation requirement. Students — beginning with this year’s juniors – must earn a score of at least “partially proficient” on the NECAP to graduate from high school. The NECAP was not, however, designed for this purpose. Regunberg wrote that the test is being used

   despite the fact that, all other problems with high-stakes testing aside, the NECAP was explicitly not designed to be used to make decisions about individual students. Right now, 40% of the state is at risk of not graduating because of this requirement, particularly as it relates to the Math NECAP. And the number is much higher in urban districts — 65% in Providence.

Because it is illegal for someone other than students to take an NECAP, students created a version of the testing using actual questions from past tests that have been released by the Rhode Island Department of Education. The exam the adults will take will be a shortened version of the math test that students take, with an effort to ensure that the assessments have the same proportion of each type of question as on the real ones.

Among those who have agreed to take the test are Rhode Island legislators, city council members, professors, and others.

Back in 2011, a member of the Orange County Board of Education, Rick Roach, took a version of a student standardized test and flunked it. Here are the two posts (here and here) that I published about that episode.

The Rhode Island action is the latest in a growing revolt against standardized tests around the country, by students, teachers, parents, superintendents, and other activists. I’ll report back after the exams are given to tell you how everybody did.