Parents and the public need to know if the on-going improvements at their schools are succeeding — not just succeeding in general, but for all students, including those with special challenges. For this reason, the federal No Child Left Behind Act, known as NCLB (January 2002) required all states to collect data that would show each school's progress on as many as 37 different "targets."
For parents and the public, NCLB produced three great benefits:
- The law both forced and helped states to build robust data systems to support increased accountability requirements and help schools and districts get the data they need to improve outcomes for students.
- The law shined a much-needed light on previously under-served populations, such as low-income children, whose test scores can be masked when looking at overall school performance.
- Until this past year, the requirement to make "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) gave the public some sense of whether individual schools were making progress in their efforts to improve their curriculum, the quality of their teaching, school climate and so forth. In 2012 Rhode Island applied for and received waivers from some of the NCLB stipulations, which has changed the measures for how progress is assessed and now calls it "Growth" instead of AYP.
As a result of the 2012 waiver to certain NCLB requirements, RIDE has revised its accountability report card to reflect the new system. For detailed Information about Accountability, see the Accountability Advanced Reports data guide (pdf).
Assessment test results help the public oversee and continuously monitor the quality of the state’s emerging workforce. Test results hold everyone accountable for their role in educating children.
Current standards testing includes NECAP Math, Reading, Writing, and Science. Rhode Island will transition to a new test called PARCC during the 2014-15 school year. The RIDE website has extensive details on the PARCC assessment.
For almost two decades, Rhode Island educators have been at the forefront of using several ways to assess children's many skills — a practice called "multiple measures."
By themselves, tests can not block a child's chances of earning a meaningful diploma. Rhode Island was the first state to take the unusual step of creating a high-school diploma system that examines a collection of results, credits, and student work to determine whether a child is ready for college or the modern workplace. Learn more about the RI diploma system.