Some Mt. Hope seniors in limbo as NECAP results come in


For many, the months of agonizing wait are over. For more than 40 others, the tension will continue for at least another month.

More than 80 Mt. Hope High School seniors who re-took their NECAP standardized tests last October after scoring low their junior year got their scores back last Friday, and the results were a mixed bag: About 50 percent failed to score high enough on the test to meet new graduation requirements put in place by the Rhode Island Department of Education. If those students do not take additional steps over the next month or so to satisfy the state’s graduation requirements, they will not graduate with their peers.

I’m happy for the most part that 50 percent of the students have crossed the hurdle,” Mt. Hope assistant principal Jen Copeland said.

“I’m optimistic that the remaining students will cross that hurdle.”

It has been a busy five months for the students at risk, as identified by the scores they earned their junior year. At the start of this school year Ms. Copeland and other administrators reviewed the previous year’s numbers and began offering students additional instruction in math and other subjects, in hopes that they would be better prepared for their test this past October than they were as juniors.

Apart from extra instruction and coaching, they even offered an alternative test — the Armed Services vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test, which is recognized by the state as a valid alternative to the NECAP test. Ms. Copeland said that while many students opted to take the ASVAB test in December, those who passed it also, in general, learned last week that they passed the NECAP test

Another last-minute round of NECAP tests will be offered on Monday, March 3; Ms. Copeland said a majority of students who failed to pass in October will retake the math portion, with a handful taking the verbal portion. At the same time, Ms. Copeland said there are several routes students can take to obtain a “waiver” to the state’s requirements. For instance, those accepted to a two or four-year college that could reject them on the basis of their NECAP scores — but choose not to — can receive a waiver. Other actions that can lead to a waiver include sitting for NECAP at least twice and proving that they have made every attempt to try and obtain proficiency.

Though it’s a lot of work, “when parents came in last week to talk about the grades, (guidance workers) had already accumulated much of that for the students.” state’s graduation requirements. Though not all students have cleared the hurdle, Ms. Copeland said it’s not been for a lack of trying, either on school officials’ or students’ ends.

“Everyone has been working very hard to help,” she said.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.