Adults get ready for NECAP

Miriam Weizenbaum has a test to take, but she's not cramming.

"I plan on getting a good night sleep and trying to think back on, I don't know, some geometry," she said.

Weizenbaum is not a student. She's a lawyer. And she is among a few dozen adults who will be spending part of their Saturday taking the NECAP test. That's the standardized test that's now part of high school graduation requirements in Rhode Island.

The event is organized by a student group, Providence Student Union, that is critical of the test, questioning if it can measure a student.

"We'd like to put them in our shoes," said Classical High School junior and Providence Student Union member Cauldierre McKay.

McKay says he did fine on the NECAP, but 40 percent of juniors statewide did not do well enough to pass the first time around this past year.

Critics like McKay say the test wasn't meant for this purpose.

"It's discriminatory, one. People of color and lower income score substantially lower," he said.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist argues that for too long students were just passed along without needed skills. In a statement, Gist responded to the adult test taking event by saying, "this exercise will not help adults understand the learning gaps of the students who score at the lowest level on the NECAP assessments."

And are people who've been out of school for years really prepared to take such a test without studying?

"Nevertheless we're people who do reasonably well in our jobs and are reasonably successful. And if that doesn't capture that success, it should it least cause us to pause and question," Weizenbaum said.

The NECAP will be replaced with another test in two years.