2015-11-19 / Front Page

Students Fall Short on Tests

By Olga Enger

The results of a new assessment designed to measure student learning against the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) was lower than leaders were hoping.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said the results from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, were “disappointing, but not surprising.” The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) released the results on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Across the state, 36 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in English and 25 percent met or exceeded expectations in math.

Locally, Newport students tested below the other communities on Aquidneck Island and below the state average, with 32 percent of students meeting or exceeding English expectations and 20 percent meeting or exceeding math expectations. Middletown and Portsmouth tested higher than the state averages, but more than half of students failed to meet or exceed expectations in both categories.

In the Middletown school district, 45 students met or exceeded English expectations and 34 percent met or exceeded math expectations. In Portsmouth, 48 percent met or exceeded expectations in English and 44 percent met or exceeded expectations in math.

Ken Wagner, commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Education said the Rhode Island results are “not yet where we want them to be,” which is similar to other participating states. He called the data a “frank measure” to base future achievement.

The PARCC assessment is intended to measure Rhode Island students against CCSS, which were adopted by the Rhode Island Board of Regents in July 2010. These standards marked the beginning of a statewide curriculum and instruction transition across schools and districts.

“The results confirm what we already know from Rhode Island's NAEP scores, our high school and college graduation rates, and our remediation rate; too many of our children do not have the skills they need to succeed in today's economy,” said Raimondo.

Wagner said the results are not an evaluation of the teachers and district leaders, but rather a way to “continuously improve teaching.” This year’s test provides a baseline towards a full transition to CCSS, said Wagner.

“The results provide one among many indicators about the health and vibrancy of our schools and their progress toward ensuring that all students are learning important skills and knowledge that will prepare them to be productive citizens, successful post-secondary learners, and employees in wellpaying careers,” wrote Wagner in the report’s introduction.

Schools and districts have been instructed to review this year’s data against the work that has been done to align curriculum and instructional practices to the CCSS. The results will help drive decisions about curriculum adjustments and professional development.

Of Rhode Island’s 56 districts that participated in PARCC testing, only four had 70 percent or more of students who met or exceeded expectations on the PARCC English test. Only 14 districts had half their students meet or exceed expectations.

Statewide, student participation was lower than in previous years at 90 percent for English and 91 percent for mathematics. Both of these percentages fall below the federal requirement of 95 percent or better participation in state assessments.

“Over the past year, we've expanded early childhood education, increased students' access to college credit while in high school, and worked to make college more affordable for more families. I am working closely with our state's education leaders to build on this progress, and on our ongoing effort to review the funding formula, with an action plan to help our students thrive and have the opportunities for success that they deserve,” said Raimondo.

The full report is available online at ride.ri.gov.

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