WOOD RIVER JUNCTION — Chariho Schools Assistant Superintendent Carol Blanchette presented the district’s school classification and assessment results to the school committee during Tuesday night’s meeting at the high school library.
Whereas in 2012 the district’s four elementary schools achieved the highest classification of “commended” and the middle and high schools received the second highest rank of “leading,” the scores in 2013 were not as glowing. This year, Charlestown Elementary was the only “commended” school, while Hope Valley Elementary was “leading,” Richmond Elementary was “typical,” and Ashaway School received the lowest rating of “warning.” The middle school received the rank of “leading” while the high school came in as “typical.”
All Rhode Island schools are classified by how they scored out of a possible 100 points in seven categories, which are proficiency, progress to the 2017 target, achievement gaps, percent of students at distinction level, growth, high school graduation rates (elementary and middle schools are not scored on graduation rates, and high schools are not scored on growth).
If a school comes in too low in any one of the seven categories, then it is automatically ranked as “warning,” regardless of scores in the other categories.
Blanchette said last year Ashaway Elementary was a “commended” school but that it had fallen short in only the “growth” category, which meant its rank dropped to “warning.”
“The label itself is a little skewed,” said Blanchette.
Ashaway Elementary Principal Steven Morrone, who was in the audience, commented that the school will work with the special education students in a more systematic way and monitor the students more frequently than before.
He also said that if students score high initially, it is often difficult for them to score even higher the following year.
“With growth scores, kids are put into categories based on their first test in third grade,” Morrone said. “The next year, the child is expected to get that score or above. If the child still scores highly but scores below the previous year, he or she doesn’t show growth.”
Blanchette added, “We are victims of our own success because the better you do, the harder it becomes to show growth the next year.”
Committee Member Ronald Areglado said that this classification system is volatile and unreliable because the ranking criteria keep changing.
“You cannot measure over time consistent performance up or down if you are not reliable and valid statistically. These tests are designed in ways that convolute student performance,” Areglado said.
Areglado said there was nothing shameful about what happened in Ashaway and that for the school to be put in “warning” was harmful.
“These labels are inflammatory and they denigrate, insult, and harm,” he added.
Committee Member Bill Day said he couldn’t accept the state’s methods of grading schools.
“This is so bogus, so phony. People get all excited that Chariho is failing and people get the wrong impression,” he said.
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the July 18, 2013 issue of the Chariho Times.