September 15, 2014
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Being unfairly judged

To the Editor:

My name is Amber Beech, a junior at Warwick Veterans Memorial High. There has been a lot of talk about 40 percent of juniors not graduating due to NECAP testing. As you probably are aware, NECAP testing has been made a graduation requirement for the class of 2014 by Ms. Deborah Gist. I recently received my test scores in the mail and found that I missed the "partial proficiency" requirement for math by one point. This means that, in order to graduate, I have to retake this test until I show growth. This also means that I will be placed in a half-year course next year in order to prepare me to pass this test.

I'm appalled at the fact that I have to pass the math portion of NECAP in order to graduate and that it is going to affect my classes. I received proficient with distinction in the reading portion, so I feel that myself, along with the majority of my class, are being unfairly judged. Moments ago, I emailed Ms. Gist voicing my opinion and extreme frustration towards this mandate. As an honors student, year-round sports player and active member in Warwick Veterans Leadership Academy, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion to her. I share the same opinion as the majority of juniors and parents.

Amber Beech

Warwick

Amber's letter:

Dear Ms. Gist,

I'm inquiring in regards to the NECAP graduation requirements of 2014. I respect you as an adult and as a teacher as well as your position as Commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, however, as a junior, I care to disagree with your position on NECAP testing and feel it is necessary to voice my opinion that is shared with a majority of students regarding graduation by proficiency. According to you, Ms. Gist, I have been labeled, "unfit to graduate," due to the fact that I missed the level of partial proficiency on the math portion of NECAP testing by one point.

To score partially proficient is to score 1134 out of 1180; I scored 1133. Let us keep in mind that I scored PROFICIENT WITH DISTINCTION on the reading portion and proficient with a score of 8 out of 12 on the writing portion, 10 being proficient with distinction. Juggling the stresses of high school, including honors classes and year round sports, I have managed to maintain the honor roll/high honor roll throughout the past few years at Warwick Veterans Memorial High. I take part in clubs such as DECA: Distributive Education Clubs of America, am a part of the prom committee, and give back to the community by being a part of Warwick Veterans Leadership Academy, all on top of WSA competitive soccer. Now, I'd like to know, why do you feel that I, along with many other students much like myself, should have to prove any further that we are capable as well as prepared students that are ready to proceed into the real world? Due to a score that is a few measly points below proficiency on a test created to display data only that includes math skills that are unrealistic and unfit to use in the real world?

Scoring proficient on a test that includes material that is completely irrelevant to the newly proposed Common Core is unlikely, considering a mere 2% of students in the state of Rhode Island were able to do so. It is unreasonable to dictate whether or not a student should be able to graduate based on their math skills on advanced topics such as algebra and intermediate geometry that will, realistically, only be used if he or she plans on pursuing a career in engineering. It is reasonable to say that a student that has poor math skills in advanced topics would, realistically, pursue a career that does not involve such skills. With that being said, it is impractical to believe that a student shouldn't graduate due to slightly below average scores on material that isn't even being taught in the classroom. Students already have the burden of senior project and getting good grades to graduate, we don't need anymore stress. For decades, students have been graduating without the inconvenience of NECAP testing and have been making great contributions to society, what makes you think that we can't continue such actions?

Respectfully,

Amber Beech

 


Comments
4 comments on this item

Unfair!!!!!! The students are being held accountable for the inadequacies of the teachers! If the student is able to pass the class above and beyond the necap testing then they should be all set. This new rule is stupid, the testing should be reverted back to the original intended use... using it as a tool for future changes and tweeking of the guidelines. Let's not hold the teachers short comings and inability to effectively teach against the students!

If she was that smart than the necap would have been easy for her. Also, she mentioned how the math wasn't important. Math is extremely important. Sounds like she doesn't like math over english.

@Michael2012 Actually, I've made the honor roll as well as the high honor roll each quarter throughout my high school career, A and B student. So I don't appreciate your comment. MENTAL Math is important. Do you think that the president, firefighters, and policemen use pre-calc, algebra, or even imaginary numbers to function on a daily basis? A career in finance/engineering would surely need these skills, but as we can see, 40% of students are struggling, so realistically they won't be advancing into a career in finance and or engineering. The material that is on the test is unrealistic. How can anyone say that almost HALF of the state of Rhode Island shouldn't graduate because their skill in advanced math is slightly below average when some of the most important jobs in the country don't need it?

Amber clearly speaks for students throughout the State of Rhode Island, which retains the distinction of having the second lowest median adult education level in New England. But fear not. These requirements will be watered down very soon by education beaurocrats to the extent that most students will "pass", proficient or not. After all, the last thing this economically thriving state needs is young people proficient in math. The grown ups will cave, students will retain their self-esteem (after all, it's all about self-esteem), and RI will remain a regional laughing stock. Jackets and trophies for everybody!

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