Chariho School Parents’ Forum

September 24, 2008

Science scores in

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 8:18 pm

RS reminds me that the science scores are in – as reported at the projo.

It is widely accepted that if a student does not read well by the 4th grade they are set up for failure.  Science is just a reflection of those failings.  And I don’t buy the “lack of adequate curriculum” as a viable excuse – if Barrington gets it, then other schools have access to the same information.

Pasted below are school scores.

More than 33,000 students in grades 4, 8 and 11 took the state’s first-ever science test in May, and results were released yesterday. A district breakdown of the percentage of students proficient on the test:

District 4th 8th 11th
Barrington 70 65 56
Bristol Warren 46 19 19
Burrillville 40 30 9
Central Falls 15 1 4
Chariho 55 30 21
Coventry 46 31 15
Cranston 50 17 14
Cumberland 40 21 18
East Greenwich 58 44 39
East Providence 36 11 8
Exeter-W. Greenwich 37 29 26
Foster 56
Foster-Glocester 19 14
Glocester 50
Jamestown 43 30  
Johnston 45 24 16
Lincoln 52 24 26
Little Compton 50 21
Middletown 39 34 16
Narragansett 51 29 27
Newport 35 12 15
New Shoreham 70 * 25
North Kingstown 57 30 26
North Providence 32 11 10
North Smithfield 52 14 27
Pawtucket 17 7 9
Portsmouth 52 30 36
Providence 9 2 4
Scituate 53 39 17
Smithfield 59 44 29
South Kingstown 52 44 36
Tiverton 49 16 31
Warwick 43 16 13
Westerly 48 26 22
West Warwick 25 13 15
Woonsocket 21 3 5
Charter/Other schools
Beacon Charter Sch. 5
Blackstone Academy 3
The Compass Sch. 71 27
CVS Highlander 24 6
Davies Career & Tech 3
International Charter 10
Kingston Hill Academy48
Learning Community 23
MET Career & Tech 3
Paul Cuffee Charter Sch.32 8

– The school does not provide this grade.* Too few students to report.

Source: Rhode Island Department of Education

August 30, 2008

SAT rankings

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 1:09 pm

Thanks to our friends at Anchorrising for compiling this spreadsheet. 

Public School SAT Scores by State Ranking

  Reading Math Writing Cumulative
Iowa 607 621 588 1816
Minnesota 599 610 579 1788
South Dakota 605 602 580 1787
Illinois 588 613 582 1783
Wisconsin 590 611 580 1781
Missouri 593 598 579 1770
North Dakota 592 607 566 1765
Michigan 579 602 570 1751
Kansas 582 593 566 1741
Utah 586 583 564 1733
Nebraska 577 583 563 1723
Tennessee 573 570 564 1707
Oklahoma 575 575 555 1705
Arkansas 575 570 559 1704
Colorado 566 577 555 1698
Kentucky 566 573 550 1689
Louisiana 568 567 553 1688
Wyoming 563 579 543 1685
Mississippi 569 550 559 1678
Alabama 562 558 551 1671
Montana 544 552 526 1622
New Mexico 545 536 524 1605
Idaho 539 541 515 1595
Ohio 529 543 514 1586
Washington 522 531 505 1558
Vermont 521 523 507 1551
Oregon 518 525 497 1540
Alaska 521 523 495 1539
Massachusetts 507 520 505 1532
Arizona 514 521 496 1531
New Hampshire 513 516 502 1531
Connecticut 503 507 506 1516
Virginia 508 510 496 1514
West Virginia 509 499 495 1503
California 494 513 493 1500
New Jersey 492 514 493 1499
North Carolina 492 511 478 1481
Maryland 490 498 490 1478
Indiana 492 505 477 1474
Nevada 495 504 474 1473
Pennsylvania 490 500 478 1468
Florida 492 495 475 1462
New York 484 503 475 1462
Texas 484 502 476 1462
Georgia 486 490 477 1453
South Carolina 484 496 471 1451
Rhode Island 483 487 479 1449
Delaware 482 483 471 1436
Maine 463 462 456 1381
Hawaii 456 473 441 1370

August 18, 2008

“As you know, NECAP is only given in NE, so its hard to compare the results on a national level. “

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 11:10 pm

This quote is from one of the “Chariho Parent” monikers.  He/she is correct – only NH, VT and RI use NECAP and VT only reports 3-8 averages and grade 11.  But he/she is wrong that its hard to compare, but they wouldn’t know that as it hasn’t been publicized yet.

Technically, if you add up all the individual school NECAP scores and average them, it should equal the NAEP score. That’s the purpose of the test, to show progress towards NCLB.  Unfortunately, the NECAP does not equate to the NAEP.  Not even close.  Call it grade inflation, dumbing down, whatever.  Preliminary research shows MA as the only coming close.

July 19, 2008

The difficulty in weeding out incompetence

Filed under: contract negotiations,Student Performance,Unions — Editor @ 12:46 pm

The following article is from USA Today about how difficult it is to fire an incompetent teacher.  Speaking of which – it should be noted that on Tuesday’s meeting we had an opportunity to change another contact but all efforts were shot down.  I tried to amend the contract by eliminating the automatic roll-over (remember that the committee voted down on the previous contracts but they automatically rolled-over so our vote meant nothing) and I tried to eliminate the wording of “Blue Cross” that eliminates any competitive bids for health insurance.  Both measures were defeated citing a new sub committee for contracts that will make those decisions.

More of the same – year after year we see the contacts continue to treat public sector workers with bigger raises and better insurance with lower copays.  When will our elected politicians start treating public sector employees just like those of us who pay the bills?

I will also scan and post the minutes from the contact sub committee. You might find some of the comments as interesting as I did – they seemed to be more interested in finding a way to counter negative press than actually fixing the contracts.

From the USA Today (and as you read this understand that we have the same problems here at Charhio – anyone who tells you different has never been on the school committee or isn’t telling you the truth):

New York City’s school system is among the nation’s leaders in trying to root out ineffective teachers. Under the aggressive leadership of Chancellor Joel Klein, here’s what those efforts have reaped: In the 2006-07 school year, exactly eight teachers were fired for incompetence.

That’s eight out of 55,000, or 0.01%. Each of those firings burned up an average 25 days of hearings and 150 hours of principal time. The cost to get rid of each bad teacher totaled $225,000.

It’s no wonder most school districts don’t even bother trying to oust incompetent teachers. Superintendents have a hard enough time getting sex offenders and drunks out of the classroom. Yet more forceful efforts to weed out ineffective instructors are a key to making schools better.

Klein and other reformers agree that outstanding teachers are the single most important factor in turning around struggling schools. Years ago, researchers settled on effective teaching as the most powerful of education reforms. A child who has three good teachers in a row has a head start on success; three lousy teachers can trigger devastating consequences.

Despite these findings, firing burned out or incompetent teachers is considered next to impossible. Why? Largely because of the power of teachers’ unions. New York state is typical. Years of inept contract bargaining at the district level matched by years of effective union lobbying produced a system where all the power lies with the accused teacher.

This imbalance isn’t limited to states with teachers’ unions. In non-union states, bureaucratic inertia creates a similar effect. In either case, the tragedy is that children get stuck with ineffective teachers.

The New Teacher Project, which studied Chicago’s schools over several years and also interviewed principals from several states, found that administrators have little incentive to remove incompetent teachers. A bad teacher can also be a popular teacher, creating conflict. Given the time and effort required to process a bad teacher through the system, it’s easier to encourage the poor teacher to transfer  —  which merely shifts the problem to someone else’s classroom.

The researchers also found that performance evaluations can be meaningless. In Chicago, only three of every 1,000 teachers get an unsatisfactory rating. About 90% of teachers get the top ratings. If all these teachers are so great, why is Chicago one of the nation’s most troubled urban districts?

(editors note: if Chariho is so good, meriting “high performing” marks, why are less than a third of our kids at grade level for math?)

Something needs to change. Unions have to realize that educating kids is more important than protecting inept members. Superintendents and principals have to be willing to take on battles they’d rather avoid. All sides can come together to build on current programs that use teacher peer groups to ease bad teachers out of the profession.

If politicians, teachers and administrators really believe in putting children first, they won’t let the status quo continue.

July 16, 2008

New Graduation Rates

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 4:32 pm

New graduation rates have been calculated for the state.  At the meeting last night we heard a lot of reasons why not to pay attention to these numbers.


June 6, 2008

More fuzzy math?

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 10:47 am

From commenter Curious  Resident –

More Chariho fuzzy math:

The manner in which Rhode Island schools calculate graduation rates was changed recently. With the changes the graduation rates in Rhode Island have dropped significantly. Out of the Washington County High Schools Chariho had the largest drop in graduation rates going from 93% to 81%. Must be the constructivist math again?

March 12, 2008

Who knows what’s best for your kids?

Filed under: Charter Schools,Student Performance,Unions — Editor @ 7:25 am

Drew Carey has been producing some videos over at  Here is one of his videos on the benefits of charter schools and how the unions and some school committee members try to fight them.

Remember last year about this time.  I made a motion for the Committee to send a letter of support for a piece of legislation that would lift the moratorium on charters.  Bill Day (whose wife and son both work at Chariho) convinced the Committee that we should not support charter schools because those schools don’t have the same mandates and requirements as do public schools.  I guess Mr. Day believes that he knows what is best for your kids.   In light of the recently announced test scores, I would ask if you are happy with this arrangement? 

Why do we continue to let them take our money and tell us how to spend it on our own kids?

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

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.

June 7, 2007

The inaccuracy of NCES numbers

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,Student Performance — Editor @ 11:15 pm

For those of you who have been reading this site since it’s inception, you will know that when I started on the board, the logical first step for me was to evaluate how we stacked up against our peers.  Simple comparisons – how our academic achievement compares to our peers and how our costs compare to our peers.

Student performance is determined 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 (compared to our peers) in a low performing state, in a country that no longer leads the world.

I also tried to evaluate labor costs by comparing Chariho to the most efficient in the state and country.  Unfortunately, the Chariho administration has told me that the employee numbers reported by the RI Department of Education are “inaccurate.” 

From the June 6 Providence Journal –

“Give Schools the tools to trim waste”

THE U.S. CHAMBER of Commerce “Leaders and Laggards” report is, to quote The Journal, “the umpteenth warning that Rhode Island is failing its students and undermining its economic prospects” (“More F’s for Rhode Island,” editorial, March 7). Clearly, we have serious problems, but the question is what do we do about it.

Simply put, schools produce a product (graduates), and it’s the charge of the local school board to produce the best product possible at the lowest possible price.

Without the pressures of competition to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, public schools must employ an active strategy of comparative analysis. The No Child Left Behind Act was designed to provide guidance regarding the quality of the product, but what about the costs?

Comparing schools by their labor costs, compartmentalized by employee function, and compensating for student performance, demographics and economic factors, can help the public and school decision-makers identify inefficiencies. That is, assuming you can get accurate data.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) uses the Teacher Certification System to tabulate the types and numbers of employees at every Rhode Island public school. This information is sent to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), located within the U.S. Department of Education, and compiled for every public school in the country.

School employees are divided into eight categories: teachers, instructional aides, coordinators, guidance counselors, library/media specialists and supports, district administrators and supports, school administrators and supports, and student support services and other supports.

Can you imagine how beneficial this information could be? You could compare your district with the best in the country, and set your goals accordingly. But in a recent school-board meeting I learned that this simple yet powerful comparison is impossible.

During my time as a school-board member, every analysis I have tried to complete has been labeled an “apples-to-oranges” comparison.

For example, the NCES reports that the Chariho District has 74 guidance counselors but the administration contends that the number is only 10. But if you move the remaining 64 employees to the support category, the analysis is still useless because some schools include secretaries in their support category (which we categorize as administrators).

The Chariho administration has investigated the Teacher Certification System and found social workers and psychologists listed as administrators, found single employees counted three times and even identified employees on the lists who had “retired, transferred or resigned.”

If we included the dead, I would think we were looking at the voter registration rolls.

On March 27, the Chariho School Board was presented with an e-mail from Edward Giroux, the director of the Office of Network and Information Systems at RIDE, that said, “It’s obvious that the information is incorrect.” According to Chariho Regional School District Superintendent Barry Ricci, RIDE has also said that it has “no faith that the reports for any of the districts are accurate.”

This op-ed is a plea to RIDE: Please give us some numbers to work with! Clearly define what is included in each category and make sure everyone follows the rules. It’s the only way we can evaluate our schools.

If you calculate Rhode Island’s overall grade in the “Leaders and Laggards” report, we have a grade-point average of 0.9, the absolute lowest in the nation! We can’t go any lower in performance and we can’t spend any more money. It’s time for us to identify our inefficiencies.

As a board member I’m frustrated, as a taxpayer I’m angry, and as a parent I’m scared. I don’t know how much money RIDE spends accumulating this information but I assume it’s in the millions. Either give us what we paid for or give us a refund so we can hire someone who will do the job right.

Bill Felkner is a member of the Chariho School Board.

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