NECAP report: Dismal scores for North Providence middle-schoolers

NECAP report: Dismal scores for North Providence middle-schoolers

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Fewer than 10 percent of middle school students in North Providence are proficient in science, according to 2013 New England Common Assessment Program results released last month by the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Only 9.5 percent of Birchwood Middle School students are proficient, the report states, while Ricci Middle School students tested slightly higher at 9.8 percent proficient.

At a School Committee meeting on Sept. 25, Supt. Melinda Smith discussed science goals for the district that include implementing scientist workbooks, revising K-12 curriculums to align with the Next Generation Science Standards, utilizing Discovery Education content, and establishing inquiry-based programs for students in kindergarten through grade 8.

The district is piloting a digital science text book at both middle schools, and it is working with the East Bay Collaborative to provide teachers with professional development to improve writing in science, Smith said.

"We are being proactive," she said. "We know the scores are not where we want them to be. It's really (science, technology, engineering and mathematics education) overall that we really have to focus on."

The district as a whole has made "statistically significant" progress since 2008, the report states, increasing in proficiency by 9.5 percent over the past five years. North Providence students as a whole are now 25.9 percent proficient in science, down 1.2 points since 2012.

Birchwood and Ricci were among the seven schools in town to decrease in proficiency from 2012, losing 7.6 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. Birchwood has decreased in proficiency by 4.9 points since 2008 and Ricci has increased by 1.8 percent.

Meanwhile, North Providence High School and Marieville Elementary School both saw gains since last year.

The high school's science proficiency increased by 7.1 percent, with 27 percent of students now proficient in the subject. NPHS has shown steady progress in the past five years as scores increased a total of 17.3 percent, considered "statistically significant," according to the report.

High school scores have grown from 9.7 percent in 2008, to 9.8 percent in 2009, to 10 percent in 2010, to 17.6 percent in 2011, to 19.9 percent in 2012, and finally to 27 percent in 2013.

Marieville students tested at a 34 percent proficiency, increasing 6.3 percent from 2012. Student proficiency has increased 12.1 percent from 2008.

Centredale Elementary School and Stephen Olney School also place among the top in the district for their proficiency increases since 2008.

Jumping 11.4 percentage points since 2008, 36.4 percent of Centredale students are now proficient in science, which is down slightly from 40 percent in 2012.

Proficiency at Stephen Olney has increased 11.3 percent, with 51.9 percent of students now proficient, the same percentage as last year.

Scores at Whelan Elementary School, on the other hand, were almost slashed in half from 2012 to 2013, with scores dropping 26.7 percent to attain a 36.6 percent proficiency this year. Last year, 63.3 percent of students were proficient.

However, over the past five years, scores at the school have only decreased by a total of 2.1 percent.

Whelan students tested at a proficiency of 38.7 percent in 2008, 37 percent in 2009, 36 percent in 2010, 34.4 percent in 2011, 63.3 percent in 2012, and 36.6 percent this year.

Like Whelan, Greystone Elementary School scores have a similar jump one year before settling back down to more consistent proficiency, making for only a 0.6 percent decrease in scores since 2008.

Scores dropped 14.6 percent at Greystone this year, with students testing at 25 percent proficiency.

In 2008, students were 25.6 percent proficient, and increased to 37 percent in 2009 before topping out at 63.6 percent proficient in 2010. Then, like what happened two years later at Whelan, scores came back down to 31.1 in 2011. Students were 39.6 percent proficient last year before dropping to 25 percent in 2013.

"The NECAP scores are being analyzed by the School Improvement Teams at both Greystone and Whelan," Smith told The Breeze. "In both schools the 2012 4th-graders did significantly better with the inquiry task."

Whelan scored near 60 percent proficient on the inquiry task in 2012 compared to 30 percent in 2013, she said, and Greystone scored 50 percent proficient, compared to 25 percent this year. In addition, both schools did better in this year with questions related to Earth, space and life science, Smith said.

"Students require multiple opportunities to learn specific content through hands on science investigations," she said. "The district is working on adding instructional resources and access to technology to ensure that students have the foundation to solve inquiry tasks."

Scores at McGuire Elementary School decreased 6.1 percent from 2012, but with 48.8 percent proficiency, students are the second most proficient among elementary peers in the district, behind only Stephen Olney.

McGuire has also seen gains since 2008, with scores increasing a total of 6.4 percent.


This is one of the most embarrassing reports on the NP school district, school committee and teachers, I have ever seen.
All of the above people that have been in the NP school district for 8-12 years have failed our kids and the parents, maybe cheated is a better definition. With the exception to our new superintendent, Ms Smith, we should demand that all teachers, district management and school committee members be dismissed for the lack of professional teaching in science, math, reading and writing. The fact that less than proficiency ratings of 9.5 to 9.8% in middle schools and 27% in NPHS in science this year says an awful lot about the lack of quality in the NP education system. Even the fuzzy math used in this article that talks about "statistical" improvement tries to mask over the resulting ratings of 9.5% to 27% in middle and high schools, 25%, 34%, 36.4%, 36.6%, and 51.9% in the elementary schools is ludicrous.
We need to hold those responsible for allowing failing teaching of our students, kids and grand kids accountable.
Raise your voices, think about those school committee members that have been there for 8-10 years, they need to go. How about those teachers that have been part of the problem over the last 8-10 years, they need to go.
Lets not forget the school district, well maybe Ms Smith can make the changes needed, lets see.
Make your list, let's get a petition, lets make those responsible for poor education get noticed and get out.

As a school committee member. I am equally embarrassed and appalled. I can assure you I am personally doing everything I can as one member to bring better leaders to our district. Those scores are unacceptable Teachers and administrators want the credit when things are good. Then they should take responsibility when things aren't. Every director in central office has been replaced so it will take time to implement the new changes. Not everyone is receptive to change. The one thing that we agree on is the horrific scores. It's an embarrassment Keep up the fight Gary. We need people like you to hold people accountable. Come to the meetings and voice your concerns. I'm very parent friendly. And love the input. Just don't swing the ax at everyone. Some are trying to do the right thing. Stephen palmieri. School committee. District 3

To anyone who really cares and is not merely writing to complain:
It is very basic-Science 101- that any outcome is influenced by numerous variables beyond the instruction:
* It is one test..just one snapshot
* The students mind set/investment/effort on those particular days
* The materials given for the instructors to use throughout the year.
* The quality professional development offered in those areas
* ..and the "elephant in the room" that no one in a political position(local or state) wants to address: the family/parents/guardians. Are they involved in the child's education?? Are they making sure students complete their homework/study/go to bed early enough and are properly nourished??
So tired of listening to rants by individuals who have no comprehension of what really takes place in a school on a day to day basis.
As an aside-Just because someone has "school" before their political position does not mean they know the first thing about education.