The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

R.I. adults took a standardized test, and they didn’t like it

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In Providence, R.I. on Saturday, several dozen state legislators, city officials, professors and others sat down for several hours at a library to take a standardized test that was created from actual questions off of the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP.

Why did they do it? The Providence Student Union, a high school student advocacy
group, persuaded several dozen high-powered adults to take the test as part of their protest against a new state requirement that high school seniors must reach a certain level of proficiency on the exam to graduate — even though the test wasn’t designed for this purpose. It wasn’t even designed for the assessment of individual students.

The Providence Journal interviewed many of the adults after they took the test and it reported that most of them thought they flunked. Results will be made available Tuesday. Some said the test included “trick” questions.

The math test given to the adults was composed of actual questions kids have to answer on the NECAP, some of which are made public every year after they are no longer being used on the assessment. The students who designed the test said they chose to give the adults a math test because that is the one that is putting the most students in danger of not being able to graduate.

The Journal quoted state Rep. Larry Valencia (D-Richmond) as saying:

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.

State Sen. Adam Satchell was quoted as saying in a student union press release:

We’re trying to teach students twenty-­‐first century skills— how to speak, how to use technology. That’s not what this test measures.  It’s not an accurate measurement of our students.

Rhode Island state Sen. Gayle Goldin (D) took the test early and she said in an interview that she did not do well on it.