Two Smithfield schools earn RIDE's 'commended' status

Two Smithfield schools earn RIDE's 'commended' status

SMITHFIELD - Two Smithfield schools have earned the highest rank of "commended" in the Rhode Island Department of Education's 2014 Classification Study released Monday that measures performance and growth in the classroom.

Smithfield High School and Anna M. McCabe Elementary School earned the district the honors to sit among seven statewide that have more than one school classified as "commended," a distinction earned by 30 schools total.

They earned 83 points and 80 points, respectively, out of a possible 100 after an evaluation that awarded points for proficiency, distinction, gap-closing, progress, growth, improvement and graduation rates.

Supt. Robert O'Brien said he was "very, very happy" with the news.

"I'm really pleased," he said. "I don't think you see many school districts that have two schools that are 'commended.' I'm really thrilled at that. That is the best of the best."

Even better is the fact that both schools have maintained that rank from last year, he said.

Making gains, according to the study, were Raymond C. LaPerche Elementary School and William Winsor Elementary School, which both rose to a "leading" classification, the second best out of six distinctions that include, in descending order, "typical," "warning," "focus" and "priority."

LaPerche and William Winsor were both "typical" last year, but their 2014 scores of 70 points and 75 points, respectively, show the tactics employed by teachers and school officials are working. In 2013, LaPerche scored 54.33 points and William Winsor scored 69.29 points.

O'Brien said teachers have been "honing in on strengths and weaknesses" among students, two or three of which in a small school can end up swaying statistics because the study measures growth as well as performance, he said.

"We all have very high standards for our kids," O'Brien said, explaining that just because a student is not showing growth does not mean he or she is not doing well.

He said that can explain the "typical" scores at Old County Road Elementary School, which earned 61.5 points, and Vincent J. Gallagher Middle School, which earned 68.33 points.

Gallagher improved upon last year's score of 57.83 points, almost reaching the 70-point mark that separates "typical" from "leading" schools. Old County, a Title I school, showed a 10.88-point dip from its previous classification as "leading."

"'Typical' is what the most students will do in the state," O'Brien said. "'Typical' is on the mark."

He said the district will continue to "really put a focus on those not showing typical growth."

While there is still work to be done, O'Brien said having a small school district like Smithfield have two of the state's 30 commended schools is "a lot to be proud of."

"The parents in this community should be proud of the education their kids are getting in the Smithfield schools," he said.