Deborah Rossiti says she is a tired but happy parent now that her son Raymond has been excused from a NECAP-related remedial math class for the fall of his senior year.
Raymond and Deborah were the topic of a June 4 article in the Beacon entitled “Point shy of proficiency makes for troubling times for Vets junior.” Raymond, a senior at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School, was one of the 256 Warwick students to receive a 1 on their October 2012 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) and be at risk of not graduating in June 2014.
As a result, Raymond was being placed in a remedial math class for the upcoming school year, despite his high grades. Last month, Dennis Mullen, director of secondary education for Warwick Public Schools, had explained that all juniors who received a 1 on the assessment would be placed in the class to try and improve their scores for this fall’s administering of the NECAP.
Since scores were released in March, Rossiti says she has spent “countless hours” trying to help her son be able to take his career-related electives in his senior year instead of the remedial math. With help from Warwick Representative Eileen Naughton, Rossiti was finally able to get a response from Education Commissioner Deborah Gist regarding the ability to submit SAT scores as a replacement for required NECAP scores.
In a June 6 letter, Gist informed Rossiti that a score of 470 on the math portion of the SAT would replace the NECAP requirement, but Raymond still needed to take the NECAP in October.
Raymond took his SATs on June 1 and received his scores 22 days later. He received a 470 and Rossiti took action.
In a June 29 letter to Gist, Deborah explained that her son was interested in pursuing a career in Criminal Justice and needed to take Forensics II and Psychology during his senior year, something he could not do if he was placed in remedial math for the fall semester. Rossiti requested that Raymond “be immediately removed from this unfair requirement which will be a complete waste of his time, as he has demonstrated his proficiency according to your guidelines of an alternative assessment.”
On July 1, Gist responded in an e-mail.
“Raymond’s school and district make the decisions about his course assignments. RIDE gives schools wide flexibility to make the best decisions about what supports to give each student,” wrote Gist. “I encourage you to bring the information regarding Raymond’s SAT scores and other evidence of achievement to his school leadership to have a discussion about developing a different support plan for him.”
Rossiti did just that, contacting Warwick Vets Principal Gerry Habershaw, Warwick Vets Graduation by Proficiency Coordinator Charles McGair and Warwick Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard D’Agostino the following day with Raymond’s scores.
By July 5, Raymond was removed from remedial math and placed back in his electives.
“Apparently Ms. Gist has no choice but to let his school decide to exempt him from Remedial Math in September and give him back his well-deserved elective courses,” said Rossiti.
In a phone interview yesterday, D’Agostino said this new NECAP development is a turn for the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), but is also good news for a number of juniors.
“Each student is going to have to submit to the guidance office at the high school which they attend the score they received on the SAT,” explained D’Agostino.
He added that students would be able to “bank” that score of 470 or higher and still take the NECAP a second time. However, if they have that banked score, they can be excused from the required class in the fall.
D’Agostino said this is great news for seniors who were hoping to take career-related electives like Raymond but were previously required to take this math course.
And it is not just the SAT score. D’Agostino said guidance offices would accept scores from any of the RIDE-approved alternative tests.
According to a September 2012 document on RIDE’s Graduation Requirements page on their website, the following tests and minimum scores can serve as “Testing Alternatives to meet the State Assessment Requirement for Graduation” for mathematics:
The document also features the alternative scores for English portions.
“It’s good news for a lot of kids,” said D’Agostino.
While he knows the students who received a 1 on last year’s NECAP will still be required to take the test again in October, he is not sure if they will need to take it a third time in February 2014. The previous requirement was for seniors to retake NECAPS for the third time if they still failed to show proficiency because they need the score to graduate. The superintendent is unsure if that will still apply to those students with banked scores.
“We will learn more as things go on,” said D’Agostino. “At least it takes the pressure off of them for having to take the course in the fall.”
Rossiti sees this development as a major victory, not just for her son but all students.
“We are elated that we finally won the concession for the schools to tailor the support for the student,” she said.
In addition, she hopes sharing her story will help other Rhode Island parents.
“If there are other parents out there with ‘NECAP plagued’ students that took the SAT on June 1, they can contact the school to have their students taken out of Remedial Math,” said Rossiti. “I’m sure there are other students in the same boat as Ray.”
D’Agostino said since the change is incredibly recent, his office is still in the process of contacting the students this affects. He did, however, say all students would be informed of the development and be able to submit their scores.