Rhode Island Still Knee Caps Its Students
So, test scores for the science NECAPs are out, and the main topics of conversation have been:
- That Portsmouth leads the pack, with 51.7% proficiency in grade 11, after having rearranged its science curriculum dramatically.
- That demographic gaps in scores have increased.
- That scores overall have nudged up.
Of course, by nudging, I mean about 4%. And if we look specifically at the critical test — that of 11th grade children approaching graduation — the increase is all of 1.1%. It’s interesting to note something for which I’ve got no explanation: Reviewing the charts that compare the three states that issue the NECAPs (Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont), it seems that up and down trends repeat across state borders. That fact raises questions about whether increased resources for public education will repair the underlying problem. I certainly don’t think funding is the issue in Rhode Island, and we trail the pack, of course.
Of particular interest to me, naturally, is the fact that Tiverton’s 11th graders have lost ground by 4.4%. That’s after a drop of 4.7% from 2008 to 2009. In the first year of science NECAPs, Tiverton students were 30.5% proficient; now, they’re 21.4% proficient. These results obtained despite the fact that the number of students taking the test in Tiverton, a stand-in for enrollment, decreased by nearly one-fifth. One would think that a significantly smaller class would receive more individual attention and therefore achieve higher scores. Given the fact that, from 2008 to 2009, the number of students actually increased by one, yet the scores dropped by about the same amount, the proper conclusion appears to be that the Tiverton school district is just incapable of teaching science to the students that it is tasked to educate.
Oddly, this isn’t a topic of conversation around town, that I’ve heard. It certainly wasn’t audible beneath the din of the school committee and administration threatening to close elementary schools at the FTM in May.