20 Mt. Hope seniors get blank diplomas

20 Mt. Hope seniors get blank diplomas


Mt. Hope Graduation-37More than 250 Mt. Hope High School students crossed the stage at Roger Williams University Saturday, shook Principal Donald Rebello’s hand and received their embossed diploma covers.

But for 20 of those students, the covers were empty.

Those 20 students have not yet met the Rhode Island Department of Education’s graduation requirements, namely scoring proficient on the New England Common Assessment Program test, according to Superintendent Melinda Thies. While the students did not get their diplomas, they were allowed to walk the stage with their classmates in anticipation of finishing their requirements this summer.

“They are our August grads,” Ms. Thies said. “They had not quite made the level of state proficiency. We’re providing an opportunity for support, and they’ll take the assessment again in August.”

The number is down significantly from the beginning of the school year, when 80 students had yet to meet NECAP requirements after having taken the test in spring of their junior year. That number was cut in half to about 40 after the test was administered in October 2013, and cut in half again after a third round of testing in March.

Some of those students have not met the requirements because they did not take the test, which is “designed to measure student performance on grade level expectations and grade span expectations in reading, writing, mathematics and science,” according to RIDE’s website.

The state offers opportunities for waivers to students who have not been deemed proficient. For example, if a student is accepted to a two- or four-year college despite a less than proficient score, he or she can receive a waiver. Students can also be granted a waiver if they sit for the NECAP at least twice and prove they have made every attempt to obtain proficiency. That may include attending NECAP classes the school offers prior to taking the test.

Not all students took advantage of that instruction, or an alternative test the district offered — the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which the state recognizes as a valid alternative to the NECAP.

Thies said she expects the remaining 20 students will attend the district’s “summer academy” and pass the test.

“There is high confidence. The expectation is they will pass,” Ms. Thies said in explaining why the students were able to walk on Saturday. “An important piece was to allow them to take part in the ceremony. We’re not here to punish. We’re here to support and provide an incentive.”


  1. Patrick, it is unfortunate that instead of celebrating the 250 students who did graduate, you chose to title the article about the 20 who did not. As a school committee member and a parent of student who graduated on Saturday, it is in poor taste and an insult to every student who worked so hard to graduate on time. Instead they were the footnote in your article only concerned with putting the district down by focusing on the 20 who will get their real diploma in August. They should have been the footnote and the 250 who received their diploma should have been celebrated with this title, ” Mt. Hope Graduates 250 of the Best educated Students Mt. Hope High School Has Ever Produced!”

  2. Klynch I disagree with your opinion, Congrats to the 250 that made it, but why are there 20 who didn’t? those 20 who didn’t have more work to do, but if the school committee down to school officials did there job, those 20 should have been ready to march with the other 250. I don’t think the editor is putting the district down, the district should share in the blame why 20 students didn’t meet the requirements. I am surprised they didn’t receive letters telling them to utilize the GED program.

    • I understand what you’re saying, Goodbytori, and agree with most of it. However, you on the other hand don’t seem to realize the students’ own responsibility to do what they, themselves need to do if they want to graduate on time. What happened to one’s own responsibilities instead of putting the blame on others, which seems to be the norm today?

  3. KLynch,

    I am sure your comment will get the popular vote in Bristol, where pure popularity isn’t always measured by brainpower — but it won’t get mine. I commend the paper for actually printing real news.

    The focus of a newspaper shouldn’t be blurred to suit the school committee. The system is responsible for those students not passing the test, their parents are responsible for it, as are the students. The graduates who may feel slighted by this article should be upset that their diplomas may not have given them tools to get through the real world — outside of RI.

    If I understand this correctly, the NECAP has loopholes so that students get passed along. What is the point of a minimum standard, if these children aren’t expected to meet it. The test is progressive on the surface. It may highlight areas that are weak, so that students get remedial help so that they can pass the minimum; but if they are “waived through”, the system is a farce. Is it a Bristol policy to offer the waiver to those who take the test twice and still fail or is it a state policy?

    Whatever happened to, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again”…? I’m sure that phrase wasn’t coined for this scenario: “… And if you don’t succeed, you will get your diploma anyway. Your high school memories are really our focus [complete with leisurely primping before the prom] — not preparing you to compete in the real world.”

    And shouldn’t someone let the colleges know what the test results are? If the students who fail NECAP have gotten into colleges, then perhaps the grades they’ve gotten are a farce.

    I wonder how many of those students who have gotten waivers will go on to teach school in RI — or Bristol?

  4. Hi Karen, Thanks very much for your feedback. I can assure you there is no intent to put the school district down, nor take anything away from the students who received their diplomas. But the fact that 20 did not is a significant note, and it was important for us to follow up on our coverage of NECAP troubles earlier in the year, when as many as 80 students were in danger of missing graduation.
    Also, we did cover the students who did receive their diplomas. You may have missed our original coverage of the graduation. Here’s the link to that story: http://www.eastbayri.com/news/new-beginning-as-mt-hope-grads-get-diplomas/

  5. Yes I agree, The students have there choice, however the paper ran an article back in February with the story of many other students were in danger of not making the requirements, Vice Principal Copeland commented that there was much more work to be done, so why were there 20 still not up to par, 20 crossed the stage with blanks, that is the schools response to cover up there not doing there job. You might as well allow them to buy their diploma like that person in Providence did, what is a piece of paper worth, the school super stood by and was going to allow her to keep her job. That sends a great message. Back in my day, if you didn’t meet the requirements you were barred from walking and you received your diploma when you did complete the requirements. So these 20 that walked are getting the wrong impression of what responsibility is. No blame to be taken with parents, Everyone new months ago.