NECAP: Some PHS seniors still in limbo

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Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 3.16.31 PMPORTSMOUTH — About 20 high school seniors still don’t know whether they’ll be getting a diploma in June, following the latest results from the NECAP standardized testing.

Forty-seven PHS seniors who scored low on the math portion of the test in their junior year re-took the test in October. Of those, 18 still failed to score high enough to meet new graduation requirements put in place by the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE), according to figures released by the school district.

Ten students re-took the reading portion of the test. Of those, two still didn’t meet the target number.

School officials, however, say they’re confident that the majority of those students now in limbo will graduate this year along with their peers.

“We can’t guarantee that all those students will receive a diploma,” said David Croston, chairman of the School Committee. “I’m confident that we’ll achieve 98 percent, I’m hopeful that we’ll get 100.”

The committee recently approved a policy that allows students to seek a waiver from the state’s guidelines by participating in alternative programs to demonstrates they are ready to graduate.

“Some will take alternative testing, some will begin to build a portfolio” to show graduation readiness, said Mr. Croston, pointing out that school leaders will be reaching out to these students to help them achieve a diploma.

“For some of these kids who have demonstrated in the classroom that they can survive, we should be able to demonstrate that they’re worthy of a Portsmouth diploma,” he said.

Under the committee’s policy, requests for a waiver will be accepted between the first day of the fourth quarter and June 1. The following must occur before the waiver request:

• Students must have made a serious attempt on the state assessment as juniors and at least once during their senior year.

• Students must have made a serious attempt on a RIDE-approved standardized test alternative measure.

• Students must have actively and willingly participated in intervention activities.

• Students must have completed all other district graduation requirements.

Students then must complete a waiver request form and compile the appropriate evidence which will be submitted to the Portsmouth Waiver Review Team for review. (The superintendent of schools is ultimately charged with granting a waiver.) The student must provide evidence of achieving passing grades on comprehensive course assessments, required courses for graduation, major performance tasks and courses taken off-site or virtually.

The review team will not consider evidence of passing grades in middle school classes, letters of recommendation, attendance records or number of earned credits.

The School Committee is scheduled to discuss the NECAP results further at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11.  The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Portsmouth High School auditorium.

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