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.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

I think this just demands further answers to an old question. Are “enriched” courses and increased competitiveness among students (is that allowed?) any substitute for parental involvement. If the parents don’t care, can the kids be made to care. Do parents simply prefer to pay ever increasing costs so that they can transfer blame?
I suspect that the teaching establishment wishes this is so. “If only we had more money”, we could relieve parents of responsibility.
I have no doubt that the “right kid” and the “right teacher” can go far, we are not always blessed.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“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.”
No no no, Justin you have not been paying attention. It’s not the district’s fault, it’s not the teachers’ fault, it’s the parents! It’s their fault.
(Warrington stole my thunder… 🙂

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Well, to some extent what y’all claim is absolutely true: I know of six children with heavily involved working-middle class parents who were pulled from Tiverton’s schools after the district played games threatening to close a school if it didn’t get the budget that it wanted. That’s six kids who would have been on track to be proficient in all subjects and have helped their classmates, lost to the district because of an educational culture of greed and incompetence.
But the larger point is that, if it’s the parents, then the public attention and resources should be redirected elsewhere.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Well, to some extent what y’all claim is absolutely true: I know of six children with heavily involved working-middle class parents who were pulled from Tiverton’s schools after the district played games threatening to close a school if it didn’t get the budget that it wanted. That’s six kids who would have been on track to be proficient in all subjects and have helped their classmates, lost to the district because of an educational culture of greed and incompetence.
But the larger point is that, if it’s the parents, then the public attention and resources should be redirected elsewhere.

triple richard
triple richard
10 years ago

Justin the TCC was the first to even mention closing a school. Jeff Caron and other even spoke of it as something positvive to look at as a budget move.
Your group and the deceitful tactics used could not stop a tax increase even in these dire economic times. The TCC does not have the trust of the people.

Sammy
Sammy
10 years ago

“The Kenyan Communist…Imam Hussein Obaba is now focusing his Muslim terrorist brain on our children’s schools. We’ve been going to school for about the same amount of time for generations and teachers have been ignoring our children for decades, how dare he stick his America hating nose into our children’s schools???? Is he trying to indoctrinate them into believing America should surrender to the terrorists by extending the school year”
Limpbaugh

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

Justin
“y’all”??? As in “Y’all come back! Hear?” You can take the boy out of the Tidewater, but you can’t take the Tidewater out of the boy. I’ve been known to lapse too. There is something to be said for “grits and gravitas”. Now, y’all hush.
“an educational culture of greed and incompetence” I would not attempt to gainsay this; but, how many parents are there at school board/budget hearings? Are they taken by surprise when these things happen? Another question might be whether the local paper presses it home, parents do have a lot on their hands.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

The local papers are very sympathetic to the local insiders’ causes, both municipal and in the schools.
As for School Committee meetings, most of the time, over the past two years, the audience consisted of me and the local reporter for the Newport Daily News. From the audience, I helped them phrase wording related to Race to the Top, explained some statistics and laws, and clarified their lawyers’ remarks.
But, in keeping with my comment above, I don’t bother going anymore, both because I’ve found the cause hopeless and because I’m among the parents who’ve pulled their children from the schools. I don’t particularly care whether anybody believes the loss of my presence to be regrettable, but it’s been a real eye-opener that they system as it exists actually has incentive to drive folks like me (even those less confrontational) away.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

I have noticed that, it seems only lately, that local papers have become more “non-combative”. I wonder if it is the same fear of “loss of access” that controls larger papers. Maybe concerned local papers think that “happy news” will preserve them. “Local cable access” has driven down attendance everywhere.

helen
helen
10 years ago

Under another topic about education I posted to say that schools should copy the teaching and disciplinary methods of Catholic nuns during the ’50’s.
It also seems appropriate to suggest that parents who can possibly make the sacrifice,even if it means a big bit of pain,take their children out of school and home school.

helen
helen
10 years ago

Mr. Warrington Faust,
I lived down South for a while when my husband was in the military service and my accent was changed forever. Y’all is still a part of my expanded New England based vocab from that time. (laugh) I do actually pronounce my “r’s”.
To all about this situation,why is it the responsibility of parents to attend these meetings? Due diligence should have been done before elections. You should feel trust in the people making these decisions.
Yeah,right. As if the ones who care prevail. Right?

James
James
10 years ago

I have children in the Tiverton school system and the last thing they want you to do is be involved. You hear about how they want parents to be more involved, well if speak up at meetings they get angry and start with the treating language if you do not comply with their demands. So what’s the point of going to these bully session.

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