Barrington High School seniors who simply can’t qualify to graduate because of less than satisfactory Rhode Island assessment test scores can now apply for a waiver based on a new policy approved by the School Committee on Tuesday night, Oct. 29.
“It was required by RIDE (RI Department of Education),” said Superintendent Michael Messore of the new policy. “We used a state template to amend our graduation policy.”
RIDE requested that Barrington and other high schools come up with a policy to grant waivers partly because of the criticism leveled at the state mandate to use NECAP scores (New England Common Assessment Program) as a graduation determinant.
It is still to be used “only in those rare cases in which the state assessment is not a valid means of determining the proficiency of individual students,” according to the policy.
“Less than 30 kids in Barrington right now could apply for the diploma waiver,” said Paula Dillon, director of curriculum and instruction.But they are certainly not being given a pass to a Barrington diploma, she said.
Students who are struggling with NECAP would be identified as early as February of their junior year, when the district receives its NECAP scores. The district would then intervene to provide additional assistance before the students take the NECAP test again in October of their senior year.
Students would be eligible to apply for a waiver during the mid-senior year if their NECAP scores are again lacking. They would have to present “a preponderance of evidence” that shows they have a mastery of academic content consistent with “9-10 grade level standards” and they have completed the assessment testing requirements of the state.
Messore is the final authority for granting waivers in Barrington based on the process that was approved this week. His decision would follow a review by a team comprised of the principal, the guidance department chair, a graduation coordinator, the directors of curriculum and instruction and pupil personnel services, and department chairs.
“Waivers are intended only for those students for whom there is clear evidence that he or she has demonstrated the required level of proficiency to earn a diploma,” according to the policy.
To determine if a student is eligible for a waiver, there must be evidence that the student has met the following criteria.
- Successfully completed all elements of their local graduation requirements except for the state assessment;
- Completed the sequence of state testing requirements, NECAP administration in October of the 11th Grade and if needed again in their senior year;
- Documented evidence of academic content mastery consistent with the 9-10 grade level standards, which include multiple [a minimum of two] and different types of evidence;
- Demonstrated effort to improve their skills through participation in their Progress Plan/associated interventions and demonstrated commitment to their academic success through the completion of their senior year;
- Where appropriate, a documented pattern of discrepancy between their demonstrated level of proficiency and their performance on standardized assessments.
You can see the entire diploma waiver policy in the School Committee’s policy manual by clicking here. Or go to the school website’s School Committee pages by clicking here. Go to the bottom of the first page for the policy manual.