By Kim Kinzie
The School Committee heard from Director of Teaching and Learning Alexis Meyer Tuesday about both the district’s state test results (reported here in December) and the report cards issued by the state for all five EG schools. Just as the RICAS results were good compared to most of the rest of the state but disappointing compared to those from Massachusetts, the state’s star “grades” for East Greenwich were a mixed bag too.
According to Meyer, the state’s report card rating system has changed, with the major component being “school accountability.” Three categories of accountability were measured: academic performance; student success (including teacher and student absenteeism, suspension rates, etc.) and college and career readiness. Individual schools were rated in each category, with the lowest rating a school receives being the overall rating. There is no average or median. Thus if a school receives two five-star ratings and one two-star rating, the overall rating will nonetheless be two stars. Or, as the RIDE website states it, “schools must perform well across all measures to earn a high star rating.”
In East Greenwich, the high school and both lower elementary schools (Frenchtown and Meadowbrook) received five-star ratings. Hanaford received a rating of four stars, while Eldredge and Cole received three stars. All results can be found here. Meyer attributes the lower star ratings to the RICAS test results, since the academic performance category is based mostly on RICAS and SAT test scores and the RICAS were taken only by students at Eldredge, Hanaford and Cole. Though EG’s RICAS scores were better overall than students in Rhode Island, the scores showed a downward trend relative to the PARCC scores, with fewer students outperforming the standard.
Meyer said they were still reviewing the data.
“We’re conducting an item analysis to help determine what we need to focus on in the curriculum,” she said. She said she planned to do this for each of the six schools, examining each question and each student’s response. She said she’d already found one area of weakness: writing.
During public comment at the meeting, a parent asked about the disconnect between a student’s grades and their RICAS test results, particularly in math. Meyer agreed there was a disconnect, saying it was due to curriculum deficiencies.
“I reviewed the questions with one of the math teachers, who told me that 40 percent of the test questions have not been covered in class,” she said.
Aside from curriculum deficiencies, Meyer noted the deep-dive into test scores has shown that East Greenwich is failing students with disabilities. Students with IEPs performed abysmally on the test, as did students in the low income category. School Committee member Matt Plain expressed his disappointment.
“I judge us by how we educate the most vulnerable of our students, not how we educate those who arrive at the gate fully prepared,” he said.
Meyer agreed, and will continue her analysis of the data to mold the curriculum into one that better serves all students in East Greenwich.
“If ever there was an example of why we have a director of teacher and learning, and why we need to invest in our staff, I can’t think of a starker example,” said School Committee Chair Carolyn Mark.
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