NORTH PROVIDENCE — North Providence school officials weren’t caught off guard by the district’s most recent round of standardized test results, but they’re working hard to improve them.
Students in grades 3-8 take the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System exam, while 10th and 11th graders sit for the PSAT and SAT. Scores are broken down between: not meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations, meeting expectations, and exceeding expectations.
Upon releasing 2020-21 test results, the Rhode Island Department of Education published a note encouraging people reviewing the data to “keep in mind that student performance may have been influenced by disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Here is how North Providence students performed compared to the state average for 2020-21, based on the percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations:
• RICAS, English Language Arts (ELA)
North Providence: 34.9 percent met or exceeded expectations
Statewide: 33.2 percent
• RICAS, math
North Providence: 19.6 percent
Statewide: 20.1 percent
• SAT, ELA
North Providence: 50.4 percent
Statewide: 48.3 percent
• SAT, math
North Providence: 25.4 percent
Statewide: 26.4 percent
- Only 84.8 percent of students took the test, which may have altered results.
• PSAT, ELA
North Providence: 65.4 percent
Statewide: 59.6 percent
• PSAT, math
North Providence: 36 percent
Statewide: 31.5 percent
There were a few factors working against students last year across the state, including shifts to online learning as a result of the pandemic, and the fact that the RICAS exam is fairly new, having been administered for the first time in 2018.
Superintendent Joseph Goho told The Breeze that, like most districts in R.I. and nationwide, North Providence students saw some “bright spots, but also we clearly saw that there is work that needs to be done to address learning loss resulting from the ongoing pandemic.”
Bright spots, he said, included the high school’s PSAT scores.
The RICAS test was administered during the pandemic, “when a significant number of students could not come to school, resulting in lower test participation rates,” Goho said. “We also know that last year, the reduction of in-person learning related to the pandemic impacted student achievement in many ways.”
Fortunately, said Goho, the federal and state aid will be used over the next couple of years to address learning recovery.
Assistant Supt. Louise Seitsinger is planning to speak about some of the specifics of the district’s learning recovery plan during Wednesday’s School Committee meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, Seitsinger told The Breeze that the district’s main goal is responding to the data constructively.
“We’re in the recovery stage,” Seitsinger said, though she prefers the more positive term “learning recovery” over “learning loss.”
The district is pushing additional social and emotional supports, instructional interventions and other programs, including the implementation of new K-12 curricula in ELA, math and science.
A new ELA program is being piloted at the high school and middle schools this year, while a new elementary math program will begin next year. High school math and science programs are also set to be revamped.
By 2023-24, Seitsinger said new, high-quality curricula will be fully implemented in North Providence per RIDE’s recent mandate.
“We need to be sure that we’re responding to the needs of our students,” Seitsinger said, adding that she feels strongly that the changes will positively impact the district’s test results – but also the overall well-being of students and their teachers, who have navigated so many challenges since March of 2020.