CHS on 'warning' status, while Garvin improves

CHS on 'warning' status, while Garvin improves

Thornton: CHS scores high overall, but one subgroup must improve

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland High School slipped to the rank of “warning” this week when the Rhode Island Department of Education issued its newest round of school classifications for the year.

The designation reflects, Supt. Philip Thornton told The Breeze, math scores on standardized tests turned in by students in the “economically disadvantaged” category.

If not for missing the mark there, CHS, with 74 points, would have been two levels higher, in the “leading” category, he said. And just shy of the “commended” ranking, he noted.

“It’s ironic that Cumberland is two and one-half points from commended but we’re on warning because we have that piece to fix,” he said.

Rankings by RIDE range from “commended,” to “leading,” to “typical,” to “warning,” to “focus” to “priority.” They’re based on a series of markers including proficiency on standardized test results, progress and the closing achievement gaps with subgroups, and graduation rates.

Statewide, 18 high schools reached the “commended” rank. In this area, North Providence, Ponaganset, Smithfield and Scituate are all “commended” high schools. Lincoln and Burrillville high schools are “leading” and Woonsocket High is “typical.”

Addressing the negative connotation the word of “warning,” CHS Principal Alan Tenreiro noted in a statement that the past two years have seen “significant and substantial changes designed to improve the high school’s academic culture and community atmosphere.”

He said, “CHS has earned NEASC accreditation, been recognized by Education Commissioner Deborah Gist as a school of distinction, expanded Advanced Placement Courses, increased the school’s four-year graduation rate, and jumped 30 percent, from 40 percent in 2012 to 70 percent in 2013, in the number of juniors scoring proficient in writing. The school has been lauded as an “Innovation School” by the New England Secondary School Consortium.”

The subgroup in question, he said, consists of 68 students out of 1,377 in the school who have been identified and monitored and provided with extra tutoring after school and during the summer.

Testing results this year showed the number in this category scoring “proficient” decreased from 36.8 percent to 27.1 percent.

According to RIDE, schools in the warning category will “implement a plan for improvement, but on a limited scale and without intensive RIDE oversight.”

Overall this year, four of eight Cumberland schools dropped a notch in the rankings, while Garvin Memorial made the only gain, moving from “warning” to “typical.”

Community slipped from its two-year status as a “commended” school to the rank of “leading.”

Ashton and Cumberland Hill are both “typical” now, down from last year’s “leading” category.

B.F. Norton, and the two middle schools retained their “typical” classifications.

Thornton said the shifts represent “a couple of points here or there,” adding, “Do we still have work to do? Absolutely.”

Looking at the local charter schools, the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy elementary school is down two notches from “commended” to “typical.” BV Prep’s Middle School retained its “leading” rank.