By Elizabeth F. McNamara
Results of the East Greenwich schools 2019 RICAS exams showed improvement overall compared with 2018, the first year the tests were implemented, according to an analysis of the data available on the state Department of Education’s website (find RIDE’s assessment data portal here).
In particular, in English Language Arts, there was some upward movement among students who’d performed at the lowest end of the spectrum in 2018, with an 8 percent increase in those meeting and exceeding expectations (56% to 64%). Math scores, which are always lower than ELA across the district (and the state), showed a 1 percent gain in students meeting and exceeding expectations (53% to 54%).
Students in grades 3 through 8 take the RICAS tests, so for East Greenwich that means the tests are taken by students at Eldredge and Hanaford elementary schools and Cole Middle School. The tests are given during the spring.
ELA scores were up significantly at all three schools. Eldredge was the shining star year, with 71 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations in 2019, a 13 percent jump. Hanaford had 67 percent of students meeting or exceeding in 2019, 7 points above 2018. Cole went from 54 percent meeting and exceeding in 2018 to 60 percent in 2019.
Eldredge led results in math too, going from 61 percent in 2018 to 64 percent in 2019. At Hanaford, students went from 49 percent meeting and exceeding in 2018 to 54 percent in 2019. Cole’s meeting and exceeding percent went down, from 52 in 2018 to 49 in 2019. Cole’s drop came from increases in the number of students not meeting or partially meeting expectations and a decrease in the number of students meeting expectations.
While East Greenwich’s results are are among the best in the state, in ELA the percentage of students meeting and exceeding expectations (64 percent) lagged behind Barrington’s by 9 points (73 percent). Jamestown, Cumberland and RISE Prep also had higher ELA percentages meeting and exceeding expectations.
In math, 54 percent of EG’s students met or exceeded expectations, 10 percentage lower than Barrington’s 64 percent. Chariho and New Shoreham (Block Island) also scored higher, as did charter schools Kingston Hill Academy and RISE Prep Academy.
School officials said the work to come would be to dig into the data.
“There was growth,” said Alexis Meyer, the district’s director of teaching and learning. “We want to look at the growth. We want to look at the sequence of things when they are being taught.”
She added, “The next steps are to do some protocol stories about the data. What’s the story in our data?”
While it’s a big test, Meyer emphasized it’s just one measurement.
“It’s meaningful but there are many, many variables that go into how our children perform. Was [the test] given in the afternoon? Did the kids have enough time? Was the assessment taken early in the testing cycle?”
Up until two years ago, Meyer said, students were taking written tests; the RICAS is on a computer.
Sometimes, it depends on when the testing falls during the school year.
“At Cole last year, sixth grade teachers did a deep dive and found we didn’t teach geometry until after the kids were tested,” she said.
However, in our data, there is much to celebrate, especially in looking at our subgroups about those who are differently abled.
Meyer said it was good to get a second year of RICAS data. RICAS is modeled on the Massachusetts MCAS, which was implemented more than 20 years ago. Overall, Massachusetts test scores are the highest in the country and far exceed Rhode Island’s.
“Since 2003, we’ve changed the assessment five times,” Supt. Victor Mercurio said of the state. “If we stay the course with the assessment … we’ll be able to start asking the right questions for the work.”
Mercurio said individual results won’t be sent to parents until later this month or early December.
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