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NECAP testing starts in RI

October 3, 2011

Students around the state begin taking New England Common Assessment Program exams in English, writing and Mathematics this week. I asked Scituate High School Science Teacher and RI’s 2011 Teacher of the Year Shannon Donovan how standardized testing has affected her school.

During our conversation, Donovan made some fascinating observations about the impact of annual testing. For example, she says 9th grade science teachers now face extra pressure to teach concepts in both physics and chemistry. The reason: not all Scituate High School students opt to take chemistry in 11th grade, and physics is a course offered only to seniors, meaning it comes after students take the NECAP science test in 11th grade.

Donnovan says she believes she and her colleagues at Scituate High School have resisted the urge to “teach to the test” and have still seen student scores go up significantly since 2007. From her perspective, testing is an important tool for understanding whether instruction and curriculum are getting through to students. However, she says she still has concerns about tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.

The numbers for Scituate High School:

Reading   93% proficient in 2010, up from 71% in 2007 — an increase of 31%

Math         48% proficient in 2010, up from 27% in 2007 — an increase of 77.8%

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