Gist responds to efforts to drop NECAP

Education Commissioner Deborah Gist

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said little in response Thursday to the state Senate's overwhelming vote to drop standardized testing, including the NECAP, as a graduation requirement through 2017.

Gist said instead that her focus was on the here-and-now and present graduation rates.

"We are really enthusiastic," she said.

Gist is enthusiastic about news released that 93 percent of high school seniors this year at this time have met the state assessment portion of the three-tier graduation requirements. They've done this through either their performance on the NECAP tests or through a waiver from their district.

"It's just important to know that those waivers are actually rare," Gist said.

The commissioner responded to the criticism around the NECAP and the emphasis on testing.

"I think it's very important for people to not believe that by having a minimum requirement on an assessment means that we want test practicing," Gist said.

This comes, however, at a time when the state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday to suspend until at least 2017 using any standardized as a requirement for a student to graduate high school.

"I feel really confident that we're going to continue with our diploma system as it's written through this year," Gist said.

Gist said she was focused on implementation of requirements, not the Senate vote.

NBC 10 asked local parents and recent high school graduates about the NECAP as one of the requirements for graduation.

"I don't feel that it should be. They're working so hard towards everything anyway and if they don't have the NECAP I think it would be great," one parent said.

"I don't think that they should be a requirement for graduation only because we have so much to do in order to graduate already," a student said.

This week, the Rhode Island Board of Education voted not to reconsider use of the NECAP as a requirement.