Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 16, 2007

Scores and classifications, what do they all mean?

Filed under: Chariho,National,State-wide,Student Performance — Editor @ 6:44 am

Statistics recently provided to the school board show that Chariho Regional High is listed as a “High Performing” school.  It is true that many teachers and administrators should be commended for their efforts, but I’ve always found these classifications confusing.  

 Chariho Regional High received the “High Performing” classification with a 62.24 proficiency score on English Language Arts and a 59.17 proficiency score on Math.  These numbers represent the percentage of students who are “proficient” in a given discipline.   

 What is confusing is when you see that Mt. Hope High is listed as “Moderately Performing with Caution,” yet scored a 73.30 on ELA (over 14 points higher than Chariho).  Cranston High West, Lincoln Sr. High, Middletown High, and Smithfield Sr. High are all listed as “Insufficient Progress,” the lowest rating, but outscored Chariho on ELA as well.  South Kingstown High is also listed as “Insufficient Progress” but outscores Chariho on both ELA and Math. 

Furthermore, even my “old math” education gives me the ability to understand that our math proficiency score also means that 40.83 percent are not proficient.  Yet 90.97 percent of our students graduate.  These are all head-scratcher numbers but there are forces that create even more confusion and doubt. 

The Westerly Sun on Sunday (“National education standards under review while lawmakers reconsider NCLB”) reported on a movement in Washington to standardize the way states measure student performance, a measure that would require every state to use the same yardstick. 

As previously reported RI uses the NECAP test.  Comparisons to VT and NH, two other states that use the NECAP, show that RI is not doing very well on our math student performance.   RI does, however, take the NAEP test, as does every other state in the country.  Note how New England states rank on the NAEP test.  Unfortunately, RI consistently ranks poorly.  The top performer ranks #1, the worst performance ranks #51 (includes DC). 

8th grade math – RI 41, MA 1, CT 23, VT 3, NH 7, ME 24

8th grade reading  -RI 33, MA 1, CT 25, VT 8, NH 5, ME 4 

4th grade math – RI 40, MA 1, CT 9, VT 6, NH 4, ME 16

4th grade reading – RI 37, MA 1, CT 7, VT 2, NH 3, ME 10 

So it would seem, as with any business, more attention should be given to the standards and evaluation of our schools. 

In January 2004, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation released a report that compared the states’ educational standards, testing, and accountability policies. Their assessment was blunt: “No two ways about it: When it comes to standards-based accountability, Rhode Island is pretty much a mess.” More recently, Education Week published a study that ranked Rhode Island 42nd on its standards and accountability policies.

 Looking at this information, I can see why Governor Carcieri has placed education reform at the top of his agenda.




  1. My best guess for why Chariho is evaluated higher with lower scores is that the evaluations are based on a reference point and Chariho has shown greater improvement than schools with higher scores?

    As for the overall performance of Rhode Island schools, it certainly is discouraging to see how poorly our students perform nationally. I have no problem with national testing that allows us to compare our schools to other around the country, but all-in-all, I’d like to see the Federal Government get out of the education business. Educational problems vary from state-to-state and region-to-region, and I’d much prefer that educational deficiencies be dealt with on a local basis instead of a one size fits all federal approach. Besides, if we sent one dollar to Washington D.C. for education, we all know we’re lucky if we get back $0.50. I’d rather send $1.00 to my local government where at least I might get back $0.75 in educational services.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2007 @ 9:09 am | Reply

  2. Yes, you are correct. That is how the classifications are derived. That’s my point, they do not tell us how well we are educating our children.

    I also wanted to highlight how well our neighbors are doing. Our demographics should not be so different than other New England states. If they are, we should discuss what is causing our population to be so different.

    Comment by cspf — January 16, 2007 @ 9:40 am | Reply

  3. One thing that strikes me immediately is how poorly students in “poverty” perform on the testing. What the study doesn’t say, but it is a statistical reality, the overwhelming number of children living in so-called poverty are also students being raised by one parent. Obviously, one parent is going to have a much more difficult time juggling all the parental responsibilities of day-to-day living.

    I think it is beyond question that academic focus in a one parent household is often short-changed. One parent simply cannot pay as close attention to a child’s academic needs as a family with two parents sharing the workload. Sadly, surveys don’t ask the question, and instead attribute poor learning to poverty. I think this is misguided and results in societal policies that result in even more dysfunctional families. Instead of the problem getting better, it gets worse. Parents cannot be replaced by government. Children are harmed whenever we try.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2007 @ 11:42 am | Reply

  4. Here’s something I found…I wonder if it is coincidence that Rhode Island leads New England in single parent households and is last in academic scores? I don’t think so –

    “Children living in single-parent homes—particularly fatherless homes—are a growing concern in Rhode Island. Since the Census started collecting information on household living arrangements, more children are now growing up in single-parent households than ever before.

    Rhode Island ranks 18th in the country and 1st in New England for the highest rate of children living in single-parent families. In Rhode Island, 12% of children lived in single-parent families in 1970. In 1990, this percentage nearly doubled to 23%, and it increased to 29% in 2002.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2007 @ 11:50 am | Reply

  5. Not sure where you got the info but Kids Count ( has the following rankings for “percentage – children raised in single parent families” (#1 being least %, 51st being most).
    RI – 2001 – 41st, 2002 – 39th, 2003 – 33rd, 2004 – 47th, 2005 – 37th

    Another disturbing statistic is the percent of teens that are having their 2nd or 3rd child. I would have to look up the numbers but in a report I did over a year ago, RI ranked very poorly – especially compared to other New England states.
    It went something like this – NH 1, VT 2, ME 3, CT & MA tied for 4th, RI 33rd.

    I understand there was a bump in 2003 (most recent data available) but 01 and 02 were consistent with the above numbers.

    We are getting off the school topic but I can’t help but make assumptions as to why we are attracting (or creating) this type of population.

    Comment by cspf — January 16, 2007 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  6. Since I strongly believe that academic success has a significant correlation with family configuration, including age and marital status, then I think we are exactly on target. I’ve had several teachers tell me that they can almost always tell when a student is from a dysfunctional home.

    For some reason, when looking at solutions for improving student performance, we never get much beyond “spend more money”. I guess because it is easier to spend money than to end government policies that weaken families, we stick to the money issues and disregard the harder to solve societal problems.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 16, 2007 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  7. […] a state, our students do “perform poorly,” especially when compared to our neighbors.8th grade math – RI 49, MA 1, CT 23, VT 3, NH 7, ME […]

    Pingback by Is it time for reform yet? « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — February 10, 2007 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  8. […] a national level, Rhode Island ranks somewhere between #32 and #41 in student performance (depending on grade and subject).  And when you factor in poverty, cost of […]

    Pingback by Academic Achievement - an overview « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — April 9, 2007 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  9. […] by the NECAP scores and has been reported on before.  While we continue to tout our “high performing” schools, the test scores cannot be ignored.  We are the lowest performing school in a low […]

    Pingback by The inaccuracy of NCES numbers « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — June 7, 2007 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

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