Chariho School Parents’ Forum

November 27, 2007

Accountability before bond

Filed under: bond,Student Performance — Editor @ 4:21 pm

I see that my letter was published today in the Westerly Sun – earlier than expected.  Here is the letter – and links below.   Sorry for the poor formating – time is short.

“Increase accountability to get support for future bonds”

 There were many reasons for voting “no” on the Charhio bond.  One of the ongoing frustrations is the feeling that parents are not getting value for their education dollars and Chariho is not forthcoming with the information.   

A recent letter from a Chariho employee said, “Teachers are lucky to get a 1 to 4 percent raise… for being among the highest performing. You don’t believe me? Look at the books.” 

I personally respect this individual for the job he has done at Chariho, so I will assume someone else gave him that information.  Here are the facts: 

The current teacher contract has two structures of pay: “steps” and “longevity.”   A teacher is on steps during the first 10 years of employment.  About half of our teachers are on steps and the raise amounts vary.  The largest raise this year was 13.4 percent and the average raise was 10.6 percent.   

Teachers not on steps received a contract raise of 3.5 percent plus longevity.  Longevity is a lump sum payment added to the salary and varies based on years of employment.  Adding longevity to the contract raise produces a total raise between 3.6 and 10 percent, depending on pay and seniority. In other words, teachers get raises between 3.6 and 13.4 percent. 

It is inaccurate to say teachers are “lucky to get a 1 to 4 percent raise.” 

Now lets examine the claim of “highest performing” by looking at the 2006 NECAP Results Report comparing Chariho to our geographic peers, Westerly, Exeter/West Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Coventry.   

There are 15 comparisons for the eighth grade (five schools and three disciplines – reading, math and writing).  In 14 of the 15 comparisons, Chariho has the lowest percentage of students in the top-performing quartile (Level 4, “proficient with distinction”).  In other words, Chariho produces the least high-performing students.  Chariho did beat Coventry for last place in one category. 

Next look at the lowest performing quartile (Level 1, ”substantially below proficient”).  In all disciplines (reading, math and writing) we find that Chariho has the highest percentage of students who fall into this lowest-performing category.  In other words, Chariho produces the most low-performing students. 

The results for grade 3 are similarly depressing.  No matter how you look at it, Charhio performs much worse than our geographic peers. 

The usual response from proponents of the status quo is that those towns are better prepared (due to family conditions) to have successful children.  I disagree and the data supports my claim. 

A child is evaluated as being “at risk” of poor student performance by looking at four metrics:  1) the child lives in poverty, 2) the head of household is a high school dropout, 3) the head of household does not work full time, 4) the child lives in a single parent family.  Living with three of the four criteria would categorize a child as being “at risk.”  While there are variations, these measures of “risk” are universal and used by Kids Count, the Casey Foundation and the U.S. Department of Human Services.  

 Reviewing these numbers we see that the Chariho towns, on average, provide equivalent, if not better, environments for our children than do our peer towns.  Most distinctly, Chariho has the lowest poverty rate compared to all our geographic peers and only Exeter/West Greenwich has a lower rate of single parent families. 

Looking at these numbers, one would assume that Chariho students are better equipped to succeed compared to our neighbors.  However, as we saw from the test scores, the data tells a different story.  Why should we accept this low level of performance and why should we pay so much for it? 

Student performance is a very real problem that we can’t ignore.  A 2003 UNICEF study on international education ranked America at 18 out of the top 24 industrialized nations.  Rhode Island ranks 37th in NAEP test scores and according to the recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report on education RI received a combined GPA score of 0.9, ranking us dead last in the country. 

So in review we see that Chariho ranks last in student performance compared to our demographic peers and RI ranks between 37 and 50 in the nation.  And America ranks near the bottom of our world peers.  So, where does that put our children in a globally competitive market?  Certainly not what I would call “high performing.” 

Today, when many jobs can be performed with a computer and phone from anywhere in the world, we must compare our children’s’ performance to the rest of the world, not just Providence. With these scores in mind and the documented exorbitant labor costs based strictly on seniority with no incentives for achievement, all Chariho residents should be intolerant of the high price of below average performance.  This is where the frustration is coming from. 

There are a lot of problems at Charhio and I haven’t even discussed the problems with the bond and Chariho Act.  Lets focus on the kids first and stop ignoring the problems.  Then maybe the voters will feel an allegiance to Chariho.   To use chairman Bill Day’s words, there are too many “lies” about Chariho.  Just tell us the truth.   

[in CT edition] As long as parents are forced to send their children to Chariho (those not wealthy enough to afford options), they only have one way to insist on efficiency and effectiveness – and that is to reject requests for more money.

I have provided links to sources for all claims made in this email at 

Bill FelknerHopkinton representative on the Chariho School Board     

2006 NECAP Results Report.  

“risk” as defined by Kids Count, the Casey Foundation and the U.S. Department of Human Services. 

Single Parent Family data. 

Poverty data 

nationwide testing   

U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Leaders and Laggards” report, ( 

The teacher contract is located here (   

An evaluation of the contact performed by The Education Partnership and approved as “accurate” by the Chariho administration is located here ( 

A prior analysis of the same material (with NECAP scores so you don’t have to mine them) is here


1 Comment »

  1. […] The obvious solution to all of our problems Filed under: School Choice — Bill Felkner @ 11:26 am I have long been a proponent of school choice – just let the parents make those buying decisions just like we do with clothes, food, cars and just about everything else.  Give parents the power to remove their child from a school they do not believe provides an adequate education. […]

    Pingback by The obvious solution to all of our problems « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — November 30, 2007 @ 11:27 am | Reply

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