Two out of five Warwick juniors have the potential of not graduating in 2014 due to low scores on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), a statewide test taken by all 11th graders. Math scores, in particular, seem to be the problem.
Some students say they think NECAP testing is "stupid," and that it should be "banished" altogether, noting that the high stakes test gives them anxiety.
Also, Vets juniors are yet to learn of their scores. According to Principal Gerry Habershaw, they will be notified of their results sometime next week.
"It's going to cause a great deal of stress on the kids," Habershaw said, noting that he doesn't like the idea of high stakes testing either. "I don't think that any one test is good to restrict a kid from graduating. They put 12 years of work into school, and to say they don't graduate because of one test is not right. Many kids have difficulty in math as it is, and they have difficulty taking standardized tests."
Habershaw went on to say that the test is a bit of a double-edged sword. In fact, he said scores actually went up from last year because educators let students know how vital it is for them to pass, that is, students took it more seriously. Still, students are failing.
Either way, juniors are feeling that stress. Many of them are not fans of NECAP testing.
"I think it sucks," said Ryan Locke, 16. "You shouldn't fail over one stupid test. If I don't graduate, I'm going to be upset."
Darrien Souza, 16, agrees.
"It's pointless," he said.
Andrew Zincone, 16, feels the same. He thinks they already have plenty of requirements to graduate.
"We already have mid-terms, final exams and senior projects," Zincone said. "It should be banished."
Terry DePetrillo, 17, is on the same page.
"I don't like NECAP at all," he said. "It's another obstacle for us to graduate."
And while honor students are confident they passed, they agree that the test should be modified.
"The test should be easier if that many kids aren't passing," Jenna Fontaine, 16, said.
Her friend, Lauren Almonte, 16, shares Fontaine's sentiments.
"Things should be taken into consideration," she said. "If you excel at something, it should help you."
But one student, Jeremy Davenport, 16, disagreed. He said the test isn't difficult, and that if students tried a little bit harder, they wouldn't have a problem.
"If you pay attention in class, you'll pass the NECAP," Davenport said. "It's not hard. You're being lazy if you don't pass it."
However, all is not lost. Going forward, said Habershaw, teachers are working hard to help students who are struggling. Students who earned failing scores will be able to take intermediate math courses during their senior year, as they will be given a chance to re-take the test in October. They will also have students take an Accuplacer Test, a test the Community College of Rhode Island uses to place students in courses.
"If they do well, it can supplant the NECAP," Habershaw said. "A lot of kids don't have the aptitude for math. I think you have to have a certain ability to understand high levels of math, and I think kids get increasingly frustrated when they don't understand it right away."