Chariho School Parents’ Forum

September 26, 2007

“R.I. students lagging on national tests”

Filed under: State-wide,Student Performance — Editor @ 3:18 pm

That was the title of today’s ProJo article.  Analysis over at the OSPRI blog.



  1. Students lagging? Hmm, maybe if the teachers didnt play favorits in the class room and only help the kids they liked, the other part of students would do just as good. Chariho has a way haveing favorits, it dosent matter what grade you are in. as a matter of fact when i was in the 4th grade, school not to mentiond but it was in this district, i was called STUPID by a teacher… now if that doesnt bring a kid down what will? then again when i was in the 9th grade i asked for extra work to help my grades and i was told if i couldnt do what was going on in class then how could i do anything else? then the same teacher called my house every sunday to say something else bad about me. finally we had a meeting and i promised things to help me do better in my class, and not one promise was fufilled. get decent teachers who dont play games. these teachers are great in some aspect but at the same time there not better then the students themself, a dislexic english teacher in the high school? a history teacher that cant remeber the history in the right order? a math teacher that forgets to tell you how to solve the alg problem because they dont remeber themselfs? people in the RYSE buliding that dont want to deal with those students because they are rude and disruptive? chariho makes the student fell dumb in its self. so if you think the problem lies with the kids because they cant learn it them self, put the blame on the teacher and admin.

    Comment by The child — September 27, 2007 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  2. To “the child”:

    Thank you for responding. I can’t speak for your experiences, they are upsetting. No child is stupid. All have different ways of learning. I have two children and they are very different learners. Thankfully, to this point in their educational experience, they have had some good teachers.

    However, I recall in my high school years, a few of the teachers had spent more time drinking or talking about drinking than teaching. They were the minority, but they were an influence on many of us. How can one take education so seriously, when some of the teachers didn’t. Of course, they had tenure, we thought they were cool, and hey we didn’t have to do work. Yeah!

    I feel for you, and I would use this forum to ask, “What can the administration and the school committee do about it?”

    There should be no place for personal insults in school. This is highly unprofessional and the teacher or teachers should have apologized.

    Regarding the article:

    I believe the article focuses on the failure of our schools, not our students. If the scores are low, then what can the schools do about it?

    I skimmed the article, and focused on the chart. I ask this, why is Rhode Island so far behind the other New England states in their reading and math scores? In some cases, 10 plus percentage points separate the states.

    In recent years, Chariho’s and Westerly’s math scores have fallen below our neighboring communities. Why is North Kingstown’s and South Kingstown’s math scores better?

    Speaking of math, what is going on with Investigations? I heard there is a pilot math program going on. When will there be results from this? Will it take another whole year to eliminate Investigations? Is there some correction going on to compensate for the loss the Investigation’s children have experienced?

    Having looked at the reading scores, Chariho has done well, but let’s not be complacent. There is always room to improve.

    Having graduated from Chariho almost 25 years ago, I took a few things away from my experience there. As a student, I should have been more focused on where my future was heading, not on the here and now. Life isn’t about having fun with your friends. I believe I should have taken more control of my education. Settling for the drunkards was the easy way out. Many of us settled. Sadly, this set me back in my college life and probably did for others.

    My advice, take control of your education. Don’t settle for anything less than excellent. After all, it is your future being affected.

    I say, let more students speak out. Let’s bring out the positive and negative things about Chariho, in a respectful way, and then maybe changes can be made. If this is forum to accomplish this, then so be it.

    Comment by Lois Buck — September 27, 2007 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  3. Wow, don’t blame the teachers. *Joke*

    Comment by Another Kid — September 27, 2007 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  4. Reading an article on and came across this reader comment which I thought was very appropriate in light of Mr. Felkner’s comment on proficiency being gauged based on
    “the lowest common denominator” (my words, not his). The article can be read here and the reader comments are below:

    “The problem is not college
    It’s the primary school through high school education.

    if you read 8th grade graduating exams from the 1890s, they were HARD. the kids had to know a LOT, not just basic math and history, but they had to do difficult calculations, cite details about American history, geography, etc.

    When children are young, their minds are like sponges. If we focused on pushing kids to their full potential when they are young, instead of trying to “democratize” primary school learning so that everyone is being taught the lowest common denominator, and if we really focused on the basics, we’d be in much better shape.

    for most jobs, a truly educated high school grad could do the job, but we’ve created the need for college by dumbing down the earlier years.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — September 27, 2007 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  5. Lets face it, as Barbara Capalbo put it , we are only “The top of the swamp”. Our kids and the taxpayers deserve and should demand more!

    Comment by Georgies Mom — October 2, 2007 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  6. I just put a comment on the Hopkinton blog and I don’t want to re-type it here. We are not a socialist country – we are a democracy. And this entails work. It means that education is a two way street — teachers and learners. If you don’t want or can’t learn than no matter how good the teacher is nothing occurs. We cannot continue to believe everyone is equal – that is socialism. We need to realize that life is unfair, people have different learning abilities and we cannot hold everyone to the lowest common denominator. ‘No child left behind’ is ‘No child pushed forward’ because, God forbid, now the least is even further behind.

    But, I digress. The majority of students are intelligent, kind, thoughtful, hard-working people. These charming average and above-average students will, with the least amount of attention and assistance, give back double and triple. They need advocates too. And that should be us.

    In a free country, a democracy, you progress to the level you work. I am a second generation immigrant, my grandparents were farmers on one side and a baker and a maid on the other – honorable professions. Education may be the path out of poverty, but if anyone thinks that it is handed to them without their hard work and luck (and luck happens because of hard work) then we are left with a society that feels it can make everyone feel good about themselves without the structure and respect that real work well done engenders.

    Sometimes it’s really not about money. It’s about rolling up our sleeves, getting back to the basics in education and expecting that the students will succeed because they want to, not simply to please us. Kids are much smarter and more willing to work than we treat or expect of them.

    PS to Georgies Mom — we privatized the cafeteria food (Aramark) and it has done very well. Perhaps its not a bad idea at all to look at that for the Custodial side too. We can certainly keep all the good workers, just manage the profession better.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — October 3, 2007 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  7. Beautifully said Mrs. Capalbo…hear, hear!

    (Note: “hear, hear!” is an abbreviation for “hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!”)

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 3, 2007 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  8. Speaking of math, what is going on with Investigations? I heard there is a pilot math program going on. When will there be results from this? Will it take another whole year to eliminate Investigations? Is there some correction going on to compensate for the loss the Investigation’s children have experienced?

    In response to this – All I know is my child is in the class with the pilot math program (being used as a guinea pig) to see if this other math program will bring math scores up. I was told one class does investigations and the other does the new program and at the end of the school year they are tested and compared !?! I hope it’s not confusing for these students.

    Comment by A's Mom — October 4, 2007 @ 10:27 am | Reply

  9. One would hope that math is math – but as we have seen – this is not the case. New math doesn’t teach standard algorithms as we learned them. It will be interesting to see how the groups compare (although such a short test is not very informative).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 4, 2007 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  10. My neighbor’s daughter is in a class that got rid of Investigations (at least in part).

    At Open House this parent asked the teacher if her son would be using Investigations. The teacher not only informed the parent that Investigations is not being used, the teacher was so excited to be free of Investigations, she slapped five with the parent.

    Gave me faith in teachers to hear this story. I don’t have the same faith in the administration acknowledging a huge mistake and changing course.

    Since the TERC website touts a new curriculum blending Investigations with Scott Foresman, there’s a chance that even the pilot math curriculum is short on math skills and long on concepts. If anyone knows about the pilot math curriculum, please share?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 4, 2007 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

  11. Good Morning, (below is a contribution I made earlier on the Hopkinton blog)

    To continue – CR you are also correct about not being able to withdraw if there is any bonded indebtedness. I would assume a town could buy its way out if that choice was made, but it would be a very expensive proposition.

    I believe the state is finally addressing some common problems — transportation (one or a few students on a bus), the lack of funding for the highly capable or high performing students ( ie: you need a Master of Education even with a Phd in Chemistry to teach an advanced course — instead of simply pairing a brilliant Phd with a normal teacher); all our students SAT’s are not moving up at a faster pace (which means our smartest students are not being challanged enough to allow them the ability to have very high SAT’s to even apply, let alone get a scholarship to help their parents, at a top ranked college or university like MIT or Harvard (yes, some get in, but it’s rare); our mandated special needs criteria are much higher than the federal standards and allows for excessive personnel. And I don’t believe the state will move swiftly or in a timely or efficient manner to correct any of this.

    No one denies that the high school needs serious renovation. You cannot have advanced courses without classroom space, a larger library, more computers (preferably laptops) and more teachers. Certainly the oil and water problems alone are very expensive to repair or move. But the 99 million dollar bond had 36 million for the high school (in 2007 dollars) – this 15 million is a bandaid.

    As for the Middle School, even if two towns took back their 5th and 6th graders to their own elementary schools it would allow the middle school to be used more efficiently for more rigorous classes for highly capable students at this school too. And none of this is removing Hopkinton from within the Chariho district.

    Personally I want to see languages in the elementary schools. Europe’s children speak 3-4 languages before they enter their middle school years. Our public schools are so far behind the advanced students in Asia and Europe that the best placements in our own university’s will not be for Americans. And in fairness to Mr. Ricci, he is trying to find the space and the teachers. It’s very difficult.

    So we begin. Again. We can start with our little children, we can’t fix the high school – changes in curriculum are at a snail’s pace. And when your children get A’s and B’s, the parents don’t see them as weak until the SAT’s come back at 1100 or 1200 instead of 1400-1600. And it’s too late.
    And that ridiculous ‘grading’ of schools (’high performing’ ‘needs help’) is ludicrous. Use the money for teachers – no one believes these frivolous terms anymore – they are an embarrassment.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — October 4, 2007 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  12. Investigations is a true disappointment. I cannot believe these kids are still doing it. Went to open house too. Found out my worst fears were realized when I discovered my son was still using Investigations.

    I would like to know exactly what this pilot program is. Does it incorporate the old textbooks? Is that why they won’t let go of Investigations?

    What kills me is that they feel that Investigations is a God-send because it teaches our children critical thinking skills. I guess we don’t have any critical thinking skills because we were not taught using Investigations.

    The early years should be about fundamentals. We can’t ignore Rote Learning. It has its place too. This reminds me when Whole Language was the new approach to teaching reading. What came from that was a lot of kids that didn’t know how to read. Phonics was abandoned. Guess what? They went back to including phonetics. What harms our kids is when we go to extremes, either one way or the other. We should never abandon what works for something new. Expand on it, but never abandon it.

    I see in some cases that the kids are being taught standard algorithms in math. I believe that the teachers are including this because they know that Investigations comes short. In making that decision, it seems they developed critical thinking skills using the old math they were taught.

    I would also like to know more about this pilot program. I also believe that a year of Investigations is another year our kids lose.

    Just an observation, will they be able to compare the two approaches if the teacher using investigations is compensating for what it lacks?

    Also, couldn’t the school also talk to other districts that have in the past piloted the new program and since instituted it? I’m sure they would share their results.

    To A’s Mom: I wish my kids were the guinea pigs. Your child is lucky to be in the pilot program. I can’t imagine anything being worse than Investigations.

    To those interested: I believe if you click on the Analysis – Math Link to the right you can see the past debate and links regarding the Investigations program. Also, I believe the student performance link will show you how Chariho’s (and Westerly’s) standardized test scores (Necap’s) in Math have been slipping in previous years compared to other area school districts. They both use Investigations.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 5, 2007 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  13. Plain and simple Investigations is terrible. California tried it for 9 years in the 90’s, math scores plummeted, and they got rid of it. The fools at Chariho then, after the disaster in California, went forward with Investigations anyway.

    I don’t know if these people are incompetent or if there is something in it for them? Why would they do this to our children in the first place and continue doing it even now? And just once, I’d like to see our School Committee put its foot down and say enough is enough.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 6, 2007 @ 1:55 am | Reply

  14. Don’t see a difference with TERC and Investigations with Scott Foresman. Looked at a couple samples. Looks the same to me. Scott Foresman is just a publisher.

    Again, I would certainly like to know more. Perhaps, I am missing something. Please, expand on this if anyone has some info.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 11, 2007 @ 6:34 am | Reply

  15. I have not found out the name of the math program yet – haven’t had a chance to talk to the teacher cause it’s NECAP testing time. I don’t mind my child being a guinea pig but what if it’s worse than Investigations. Or if it’s a great program and they have it this year, what about next year I don’t want her to get confused.

    Comment by A's Mom — October 12, 2007 @ 8:15 am | Reply

  16. All I know is this current curriculum is failing our kids. Their scores are plummeting. They’ll be great critical thinkers, but they won’t be able to balance their checkbooks without a calculator.

    I understand your concern, and I don’t blame you one bit. Definitely, as soon as you can find out about the curriculum, let us know. We can all do our research, and do some comparisons.

    I will tell you this, if it is the Investigations with Scott Foresman, it appears to be the same curriculum. If that is true, it is just a game to appease us. I hope I’m wrong.

    Please, let us know what you find out.


    Comment by Lois Buck — October 13, 2007 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  17. I wouldn’t even concede critical thinking. Without foundational learning how can you think critically about something you don’t even know?

    My experiences, and logic itself, tell us that critical thinking evolves from rote learning. Once the basics are in place, then the rest progresses naturally.

    TERC/Investigations is like building a house without a foundation and then expecting the foundation to miraculously build itself. It won’t happen.

    Every child educated within the Chariho School system using the TERC/Investigation curriculum should sue the pants off this administration once they get done high school and discover how badly they’ve been harmed by this experiment. TERC is a social engineering tool and disregards every tenet of education. The people who are doing this to are children should be ashamed. I’m not a fan of lawyers or lawsuits, but this is one time I hope the leeches go for blood.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 13, 2007 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  18. I found the math program for the 4th grade class at Ashaway Iam looking into it, it’s new so I haven’t found out much about it yet. enVision Math by Pearson Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley – the web page I found
    hope it works!
    Tell me what you think

    Comment by A's Mom — November 8, 2007 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

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