Rhode Island Elementary and Middle School Test Results: Charter Middle Schools are Amongst Providence’s Best

According to the testing results provided by the Rhode Island Department of Education, two of Providence’s top three middle schools (out of nine total) are charter schools, the Times2 Academy, and the Paul Cuffee school. Times2 and Paul Cuffee both have over half of their students proficient in reading and over one-third proficient in math. Objectively, those don’t seem like great numbers, but only one other middle school in the city (Nathanael Greene, the only Providence middle school — charters included — to get to 50% proficiency in math) met both of these criteria. In fact, no Providence middle schools, other than the three listed above, reached either 40% proficiency in reading or 30% proficiency in math.
Whether it’s more charters like Times2 and Paul Cuffee, or a public choice program that allows schools like Nathanael Greene to increase the number of students they reach (and makes other schools say we’d better start doing whatever they’re doing), reforms rewarding schools that work are absolutely necessary to improving education in Rhode Island.

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Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

What a surprise. You mean if you give parents choices to help them guide their child’s educational development, their child performs better? Shocking.
I would have thought children would perform better if their teachers were given fully funded pensions allowing them to retire early. So you mean the NEA is wrong?

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

It’s been said a thousand times and it’s still true. The teacher unions only care about their constituents – the dues paying teachers. The schoolchildren are always, at best, a secondary concern. This is yet one more example. The teacher unions will never, ever do anything that doesn’t benefit the union rank and file, they will have to forced to do anything that doesn’t clearly benefit the teachers first and foremost.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>It’s been said a thousand times and it’s still true. The teacher unions only care about their constituents – the dues paying teachers. The schoolchildren are always, at best, a secondary concern.
IMHO, children and taxpayers are irrelevant to the teachers unions, even the rank and file teachers are subordinated to the interests of the teacher union bosses (and their industrial age Marxist world view).
That, and don’t forget that much of the union leadership / activists are composed of poor teachers – they are the ones who really benefit from the union presence. Good teachers don’t really need “union protection.”

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

>> and don’t forget that much of the union leadership / activists are composed of poor teachers – they are the ones who really benefit from the union presence. Good teachers don’t really need “union protection.”
Assuming that this is true and combining it with the lack of any uprising against the teacher union status quo from within would seem to indicate that the poor teachers make up the clear majority of public school educators and that excellent teachers are such a small minority that they can’t even think about challenging their leadership.

Michael
13 years ago

I’m not trying to defend teachers or their union here but one important factor that should not be overlooked is the level of parent involvement in the charter schools. The simple fact that the parent even knows or cares about the options available is an important step. Providence schools are full of students whose school day is the best part of an otherwise dreary existance. Life for them is unlike anything people from good homes and backgrounds can imagine. Expecting them to excell, or even keep up with no support from traditional sources is unfair to them and their teachers.

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

You’re absolutely right about parental involvement Michael. It’s importance cannot be overstated. But this begs the question: Why are we currently paying so much and likely going to pay so much more than we already are to educators that simply cannot make up for an inferior home environment.
Simply put, if socioeconomics (i.e. the home environment) rules the day when it comes to student performance (and it does), then why are we paying the teachers so much?

Michael
13 years ago

The traditional argument is we are paying teachers for what they know, ie. their education, current and continuing. Yours is an excellent point, all that education is going to waste on the “horses that aren’t drinking the water.” Educators who continue to hit a wall with a disinterested student body must feel the frustration on a daily basis thus leading to their lowered job performance. What to do? Punish the educator, or let him or her go and hire part-time babysitters to fill their place? We as a society are providing the tools, and very expensive tools to a population that is increasingly nonchalant about their education and how fortunate they are to have it. The liberal mentality of a widespread safety net has replaced the healthy fear of failure leading to truly frightening consequenses. I’m not saying learn or starve is the answer but a little kick in the pants wouldn’t hurt, teachers would then see the fruits of their labor evident on the test scores from a student body that is paying attention .

john
john
13 years ago

Michael, I couldn’t agree with you more. To cite one example, South Providence in the 30s also had a lot of children from families down on their luck, including more than a few in which the pressures of the Depression led to broken homes. But those children seized upon the educational opportunities offered by the places Tyler School as a way — indeed, before WW2 came along, the way — out of the trap they were in. They “got it.” And for the subsequent 70 years or so, RI has benefited from the result. The really interesting question is what changed since then? What has caused today’s generation of children in South Providence to look at life so differently? Clearly, a lot of it is the difference in parental attitudes — but that only pushes the fundamental question back another generation. A different cultural mix is probably also important — the poor Irish families from 1930s South Providence most likely placed a higher value on education than many Latino families do today (anybody doubting this needs only look at the quality of public school systems across South America). But that can’t be the whole story. After everything else has been taken into account, I cannot help but agree with you that the existence of a large “poverty industry” ready to support people who fail to take schooling seriously (and, more importantly perhaps, communicate a clear “you’re a victim and you’re owed this” message to them) is a critical — perhaps the critical — part of the problem. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Kate Brewsters and Elizabeth Burke Bryants of this world are ever going to change their spots. As a result, RI seems destined to become more and more like a typical South American city state, with a minimal middle… Read more »

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

Excellent points. Looks like the law of unintended consequences has furnished yet another example: If you throw a large enough social safety net out there, personal responsiblity is diminished to the point that many parents in struggling situations will no longer emphasize education and having a career as a path to a better life for their own children. Instead of self reliance and a little hard work they would rather have their children just wait for the helping hand of Government. Very sad, there is a lot of wasted potential out there.

Michael
13 years ago

True about the wasted potential. Just when I think I’ve had enough and want every non-productive welfare mongering good for nothing loungeabout arrested or deported I’ll come across some innocent kid with a heart of gold who has yet to be corrupted by our policies and rethink my position. It’s kind of like having a split personality; one day I want justice; no more social programs, every man for himself, survival of the fittest, etc., etc., then I go into one of these kids homes and see what goes on behind closed doors and think how can I help these poor bastards. I wish I had the answers. I wish somebody had the answers.

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

There are many tragic young lives out there, caused in large part by the misguided behaviors of their parents.
My point was that there are many good reasons why it seems that a large social safety net has created even more of these unfortunate scenarios, not less of them. And if this is the case wouldn’t it be prudent to begin to eliminate the social programs to enhance personal responsibility (along with familial, educational, and vocational responsibility)? This, in the end, would result in less kids in unfit homes and more of them reaching their full potential. I just don’t see it happening any other way. If more social programs were the answer wouldn’t we already be seeing the benefits?

Michael
13 years ago

I agree. It is going to be painful at first but the long term benefits will be worth it. We have to start somewhere. I know it is tough to be the one making the cuts but that is what we elect people for, not to do our dirty work but to do what needs to be done for the betterment and survival of our society. We are generous by nature. Some choose to survive by exploiting that generosity. When there is nothing left to give, which is where I believe we are, the truly vulnerable will suffer, and suffer greatly. We are suffocating, trapped in our own safety net.

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“If you throw a large enough social safety net out there, personal responsiblity is diminished to the point that many parents in struggling situations will no longer emphasize education and having a career as a path to a better life for their own children.”
Compound that with a victim outlook (of any race; I’ve seen “victims” of all colors) and it’s no wonder some people never get off square one.
This is the true crime of the poverty industry and its connections in the State House (Senator Weed). It gives people a reason to sit on the curb rather than get up and do what’s best for themselves – best on many levels.

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“I would have thought children would perform better if their teachers were given fully funded pensions allowing them to retire early.”
Anthony, Anthony. It’s for the chi-hill-dren

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