Rhode Island’s Poor Regional and National Performance in Education

Jennifer D. Jordan of the Projo reports on yet another study showing Rhode Island not doing so well, the College Board’s yearly analysis of SAT Scores.
Here are the New England states ranked by math scores…

  • Massachusetts 524
  • New Hampshire 524
  • Vermont 519
  • National Average 518
  • Connecticut 516
  • Rhode Island 502
  • Maine 501
…and by reading scores…
  • New Hampshire 520
  • Massachusetts 513
  • Vermont 513
  • Connecticut 512
  • National Average 503
  • Maine 501
  • Rhode Island 495

UPDATE:
I have to take a step back from using SAT scores as an indicator of Rhode Island’s educational performance relative to the nation. Take a comparison of Rhode Island to Illinois as an example. At first, the Illinois numbers look fantastic (609 math, 591 reading). But then look at how many students took the test in each state: 8,130 in Rhode Island versus 12,694 in Illinois, even though Illinois has about 12 times the population of Rhode Island (Chicago by itself is almost 3 times as large as RI).
I suspect that the cause is that there are still regions of the country (like Illinois) where the American College Test (ACT) is more common than the SAT, and that in those regions the only students who take the SATs are those planning to attend some hi-falutin’ Ivy League or west coast university, skewing the SAT median upward.
However, the regional comparison is still valid, as all 6 New England states have a high percentage of students taking SATs.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
19 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Greg
Greg
15 years ago

Just goes to show that all that money we pay our valued teachers is WELL WORTH IT!
Oh, of course, they’re underpaid and underappreciated.

roadrunner
roadrunner
15 years ago

Bob Walsh, are you going to weigh in?
Let me guess: you need MORE from the taxpayers?

john
john
15 years ago

We apparently have a perfect opportunity in Cumberland to fire a bunch of union teachers who are out on an illegal strike and replace them with new hires.
Of course, the union will head to court. I say, see you there. In the meantime, we’re going to give our kids a good education, within a budget we can afford.
I have no doubt the majority of voters would support this move. Just ask the NY Transit Workers Union.
Too bad none of our elected officials have the guts to take this step.

Tom W
Tom W
15 years ago

>>Too bad none of our elected officials have the guts to take this step.
Doing in Cumberland (or anywhere in RI) what Reagan did with the air traffic controllers would have an amazingly beneficial impact throughout the state.
Alas, there are no RI Reagan’s anywhere in sight …

Bobby Oliveira
Bobby Oliveira
15 years ago

Dear John and Tom W,
After you get done tilting at those windmills, are you going to paint them too??

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
15 years ago

National average Math SAT: 518
Rhode Island average Math SAT: 494
Barrington average math SAT: 580
East Greenwich average math SAT: 575

Central Falls average math SAT: 383
Working on the issues related to poverty will help teachers help students. It is as simple as that. And yes, it costs money, and to the extent you wish schools to be a partner in addressing the impact of poverty on students, it will require more money for schools. If you care about kids, or the future of our country (hopefully both), you will agree.

Greg
Greg
15 years ago

Bob,
I’d GLADLY give you more money. Can you show us some RESULTS that would warrant more money? Right now we have kids that are graduating from Rhode Island schools that can’t read, can’t write, can’t make change, and are essentially unemployable.
I know the secret plan is to create an entire generation so stupid that they NEED the creation of the “Nanny State” so socialism will flourish and you and your ilk will get the utopian America you were pining for at Woodstock, but do you really think you’re going to get it AND tax us to death?

Anthony
Anthony
15 years ago

Wow, with scores like these, RI must have some of the lowest paid teachers in the country…….
For once, I agree with Greg. Until teachers are held accountable for the performance of their students, throwing money at the problem is not a solution.

Bobby Oliveira
Bobby Oliveira
15 years ago

Dear Anthony,
Unfortunately, there’s no direct correlation between teacher performance and student performance. It would be a nice simple world if there was.

Tom W
Tom W
15 years ago

>>Unfortunately, there’s no direct correlation between teacher performance and student performance. It would be a nice simple world if there was.
Then, obviously, there’s no direct correlation between teacher pay and student performance.
So the NEA’s propaganda about needing “good pay to attract good teachers” is just … propaganda!

johnpaycheck
johnpaycheck
15 years ago

i wouldnt give 2 cents for an opinion of bob walsh. he has only one agenda. more money and if it means that more kids and schools fail , then who cares. mr walsh, that is your legacy to ri and dont think i am the only one that thinks that way. and by the way, i am a successful professional with advanced degrees.

roadrunner
roadrunner
15 years ago

“no correlation”, ?
OK. So, there mustn’t be any correlation between teacher pay and student performance. Right? Private school teachers get far less in overall compensation and private school students perform much better.
Throughout RI, the largest percentage of the increases in School Department budgets come from increases in Teacher pay and benefits. According to Bob, we’re getting NO RETURN on that “investment”.
It’s time to make a good quality education available to all children. It’s time for school choice!

Bill F
Bill F
15 years ago

So what is the difference between public and private schools and the way they pay teachers? It’s not the amount. In one, pay is an incentive; in the other it is an entitlement.

Bobby Oliveira
Bobby Oliveira
15 years ago

Dear Roadrunner, Tom W and others,
Private schools choose who they take. It makes a huge difference.
You want a correlation that does work? Amount of time spent by parents reinforcing learned lessons in class and success.
If you want to measure something, come up with a scale that measures the entire system’s ability to make sure parents understand that they have the most direct stake. Private school parents, like mine were, are paying directly so they take more interest and this has an effect on scores.
Even a poverty stricken kid will do much better if there’s adult involvement to the level that the adult can be proficient.
In other words, can’t build a great house (high scores) on a lousy foundation (poverty, lack of belief in education in the home, parents without time or committment, lack of basic language skills -all languages, not just english-, overall system not properly funded, lack of discipline in the classroom, et cetera)
One last thought on private schools: those far right religous indoctrination centers way underperform based on who they start with. If they followed more of the Catholic School model (yes, I went to St. Phil’s, Portsmouth Abbey, Bishop Connolly) and stopped teaching silly things like Creationism (even Catholic Schools teach proper science including stem cells) perhaps they would be better off.

John
John
15 years ago

Notice how Bob Walsh avoids mentioning the three studies (by RAND, the Manhattan Institute, and Standard and Poor’s) that all adjusted for differences in state demographic inputs, and found that after this was done RI performed even worse on NAEP tests?
Notice how Bob also avoids noting how, on the most recent SATs, RI’s affuent communities once again grossly underperformed their peers in Massachusetts?
Statistically, RI students perform worse than you would predict based on demographic factors. This means RI teachers provide NEGATIVE value added, for which we pay them (in salaries and benefits) more relative to the private sector average than any other state in the country.
Bob W. can’t handle the truth. But I’ll bet this isn’t what worries him. No, what gives Bob nightmares is the day a majority of his union members realize that his support for RI’s out-of-control welfare programs has made severe cuts in their retirement benefits unavoidable. And that day is coming soon.

Bobby Oliveira
Bobby Oliveira
15 years ago

Dear John,
Did you attend the Tom Coyne school of statistics?
Are you seriously trying to compare the private schools available to someone from Barrington and those available to someone from Marble Head?
Are you forgetting that the NEA doesn’t teach in either?
Did you actually quote a “study” from the Manhattan Institute? What a joke. Standard and Poor’s, on education, is almost as bad.
Save the blind union hating for your buddies at work or the folks in your social circle. It doesn’t solve problems and every time you do it, it will be pointed out.

CC
CC
15 years ago

the teachers should be fired for an illegal strike. the inmates are running the asylum. this is why i cant support the teachers. its all about the money and not properly teaching the students.

john
john
15 years ago

Bobby,
To clarify: the SAT scores are for the public high schools in the respective towns. All of which have teachers unions. The point stands: public high schools in RI’s most affluent communities underperform their peers in Massachusetts.
Oh, and the last time I checked, the majority of people in the world find Standard and Poor’s a more credible source than Bobby Oliveira.

Bobby Oliveira
Bobby Oliveira
15 years ago

Dear Andrew,
Let me try to be more clear:
1.) I support choice. However, in a system with this number of districts, choice will not work for us.
2.) I support charter schools provided, and it’s a big provided, that you fully fund public schools first.
3.) Vouchers don’t work so they are not worthy of discussing.
I actually believe, as did the folks who put together the family assist project grants did, that determining the at-risk factors and working from there is the first step to merit pay if you’d like to try it. Any merit pay program that does not account to those steps becomes a combination of unfair and unworkable.
As a salesperson, I believe people do better in a competitive environment, hence, why I like Charter schools. However, from a public policy standpoint, it must be an equal playing field. This is why Standard and Poor’s, for education information, gets rejected dur to their history of imbalance.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.