The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) released the 2012 School Classifications list Friday outlining the progress of institutions throughout the state. Warwick’s schools fell mainly within the “typical” range, avoiding both highly negative and positive ratings.
School Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Maloney said he isn’t pleased with the ratings, and he doubts parents will be either.
“They’re lower than I want them to be,” said Maloney of the scores. “I don’t think they paint a perfect picture, but it shows there’s work that needs to be done.”
The 2012 Classifications were the first to be released under the new Rhode Island Accountability System, which aims to identify and aid low-performing schools. The 2012 Classifications were based on several components, including student proficiency, growth, improvement, graduation and gap closing (how well the school serves all students, including those with disabilities).
The scores, with a possible maximum of 100, were then boiled down into classifications: “commended,” “leading,” “typical,” “warning,” “focus” or “priority.”
RIDE identified 26 “commended” schools, 11 “focus” schools and 18 “priority” schools, none of which are in Warwick.
The 11 “focus” schools were all newly identified, as well as five of the 18 “priority” schools. Both “focus” and “priority” schools are the lowest achieving in the state and are therefore subject to state intervention.
According to a press release issued by RIDE on Friday, the 29 lowest-scoring schools will undergo a diagnostic process in the following months. By November, superintendents of those schools will identify an intervention model and by January, districts will develop school-reform plans. The plans will cover up to five years for “priority” schools, and up to three years for “focus” schools.
Lesser plans for improvement will also be implemented for schools that received a “warning” classification, but with minimal RIDE oversight. Seven Warwick schools earned a “warning” rating. Superintendent Peter Horoschak was not available for comment as of press time.
But the numerical scores and classifications listed did not always go hand in hand. For some schools, earning a score greater than 70 did not guarantee the school rated at or above “typical,” as was the common trend. But why is that?
Elliott Krieger, executive assistant to Commissioner Deborah Gist, explained that an extremely low score in a particular category swayed the school’s classification even if they scored well in the other areas.
For example, Randall Holden Elementary School, which received an overall score of 71, received a “warning” classification. Other area elementary schools that scored nearly 20 points less than Holden still achieved a higher “typical” rating. Krieger said Randall Holden’s lowered classification was due to an extremely low score in the student growth category. The school earned five out of a possible 25 points.
The student growth category is based on NECAP scores, but Krieger said the rubric doesn’t make it harder for already high-achieving schools to earn all possible points in that area. Instead, he said that high-achieving students are compared to their counterparts in other schools. Those at Randall Holden, he explained, showed less growth than their high-achieving peers, pushing the otherwise high-scoring school into the lesser category.
Maloney contested the NECAPs aren’t the “end all be all” of determining student proficiency, and believes there are more accurate ways to measure the efficacy of teachers and the progress of their students.
He also said the data may reveal more upon further study than initially inferred. For example, if test scores for seventh graders are down from three years ago, they may be up from fourth grade scores three years ago – a sign the specific group of students are showing growth.
In addition, Maloney believes the Warwick ratings reflect a lack of increased funding.
“We haven’t had an adequate increase in funding in the last four years,” he said. “We’re starting to see some issues.”
Five out of the 16 Warwick elementary schools earned a “warning” classification while the remaining 11 received “typical” ratings. Both Aldrich and Winman Junior High received the “warning” classification, while Gorton and the three high schools were labeled “typical.”
“I don’t think I’m satisfied [with the scores],” said Maloney. “We’re going to make things better.”
School Committee Chairwoman Beth Furtado said Monday she hadn’t had much time to pore over the data and determine if it matches her perception of the schools in the city. However, she said if the scores are accurate, the classifications should help the School Committee determine the changes they need to make.
Maloney said the School Committee will discuss the 2012 School Classification at a future meeting, and encourages the public to attend.
For a table of full scores by city, town or grade level, visit www.ride.ri.gov/DataWorks.
2012 SCHOOL CLASSIFICATIONS (out of 100 possible points)
Cedar Hill, 63.33, Typical
Hoxsie School, 48.83, Warning
Robertson School, 65.50, Typical
John Brown Francis, 53.17, Typical
Greenwood, 55.00, Typical
Harold F. Scott, 69.17, Typical
Holliman School, 50.83, Typical
John Wickes, 43.83, Warning
Lippitt School, 57.83, Typical
Norwood School, 47.83, Warning
Oakland Beach, 60.50, Warning
Park School, 64.83, Typical
Randall Holden, 71.00, Warning
Sherman School, 53.33, Typical
Warwick Neck School, 51.83, Typical
Wyman, 59.00, Typical
Aldrich, 54.17, Warning
Gorton, 54.50, Typical
Winman, 50.67, Warning
Pilgrim, 59.33, Typical
Toll Gate, 66.67, Typical
Warwick Vets, 50.83, Typical