BV Prep wins 'commended' status in state rankings

BV Prep wins 'commended' status in state rankings

Several Cumberland schools stride forward, Lincoln schools maintain 'typical'

CUMBERLAND - Following the first year of statewide testing for the Blackstone Valley Prep's elementary school, 3rd-graders achieved "commended" status, a top ranking they share with no other elementary schools in the four towns and cities they serve, except Community School in North Cumberland.

This Rhode Island Mayoral Academies school was brand new in 2009 when this year's high-achieving 8-year-olds enrolled as kindergartners from Cumberland, Lincoln, Pawtucket and Central Falls.

Taking the New England Common Assessment Program tests for the first time last October, they put their school on the list of 24 best among 279 Rhode Island elementary, middle and high schools.

BV Prep's middle school achieved "leading" status, again a rank attained by none of the middle schools in the four cities or towns that BV Prep draws from.

BVP's executive director, Jeremy Chiappetta, attributes the scores to "rock star teachers, a rigorous curriculum, significant homework expectations, and our longer day and longer year."

RIMA Chief Executive Officer Mike Magee called the "commended" designation "especially gratifying as a tribute to the very first class of 5-year-olds who entered our first Mayoral Academy class in 2009."

For district schools of Cumberland and Lincoln, new state rankings issued just before the July 4th holiday were a mixed bag that saw big gains by Cumberland High and McCourt Middle schools along with three Cumberland elementaries ranking above "typical."

At the same time, Cumberland's Garvin Memorial finds itself in "warning" status.

Lincoln High School lost its "leading" distinction and three elementaries lost points, leaving no Lincoln schools doing better or worse than "typical."

Six designations are possible, with "typical" the most frequent. It replaces the "meets adequate yearly progress" designation used up to two years ago.

Eight measures, including proficiency, progress and gap-closing for disadvantaged kids, are used to establish labels of commended, leading, typical, warning, focus, or priority.

The majority fall into the "typical" classification with a 50 to 70 Composite Score Index.

And that's just how all Lincoln schools are ranked this year, although more lost ground than improved. Central Elementary lost 11 points, to 55.5, Lonsdale lost 8 points to 56.5, Northern gained 7 points to 61.1, and Saylesville remained flat at 52.

Lincoln Middle School dropped 9 points to 53 points and Lincoln High lost 6 points and its "leading" ranking to 64.6 points.

Supt. Georgia Fortunato was not immediately available to comment.

Cumberland's disappointment is Garvin Memorial. With 49.3 points - missing the "typical" cutoff by 7/10ths of a point - it landed on the "warning" list, a designation that Assistant Supt. Robert Mitchell told The Breeze reflects the gap between economically deprived, non-English speaking, and special needs students, and those who don't have any of those disadvantages.

While "priority" and "focus" ranks given to 28 urban area schools will bring on intensive oversight by the state, the 41 warning schools that RIDE identified must also develop and implement plans for improvement, but on a lesser scale and without intensive RIDE oversight.

Meanwhile, youngsters at both Ashton, up 11 points, and Cumberland Hill, up 8 points, reached "leading" status, the rank above "typical."

B.F. Norton, up 5 points, kept its "typical" status, and Community enjoyed a second year on the list of 24 "commended" schools.

Cumberland's McCourt Middle School picked up 8 points to leap out of "warning" to "typical" status, a level matched by North Cumberland Middle.

Mitchell is crediting a "positive energy and sense of teamwork" among the town's educators for the improvement.

"People are really stepping up above and beyond the call of duty and that's really what it takes. I'm impressed with the attitude," he said.

Mitchell credited the staff of McCourt who this past year "developed a plan, worked hard to move from warning to the next category and reaped the benefits."

Said Mitchell, "It's when you set priorities that things get better."

He said he had no doubt Garvin Memorial can have the same success next year.

About Community School's "commended" status, he said that while all parents of Cumberland have high expectations, "there's no question but the parents in the Community School district have expectations that are high for the students and the staff and everyone knows it and no question that it plays a part. I'm happy and grateful for their performance."

Cumberland High School picked up 16 points over last year and with 69.8 points just missed the "leading" category.