Money Watchers: NECAP retest cost questioned

High school seniors in Rhode Island must pass the NECAP test to graduate next year, but they'll get more than one chance to take the test, and that second shot at success will cost the state $1.1 million.

"(Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist) doubled-down to the cost to the taxpayers for $1.1 million by saying 'Well for the kids who don't pass our hurdle at the 11th grade level, we're going to spend $1.1 million and create a retest for the subset of students,'" said Bob Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association of Rhode Island.

Gist was not available for comment on Thursday.

Walsh told NBC 10 that the NECAP test was never designed to assess high school preparedness.

"The test wasn't supposed to be a graduation requirement," Walsh said. "It was to get state-wide data so the districts and the students could be compared to each other, so we know what to do to improve performance. It's already 11th grade. Take that $1.1 million and work with the kids who are partially proficient and make them proficient."

The contract with Measured Success, the New Hampshire-based group that runs the NECAP test, runs through fiscal year 2015.

The last test will be administered in the fall of 2014, then Rhode Island will be moving to a new test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which Walsh anticipates will have its own issues.