October 31, 2014
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‘Typical’ rating of most Warwick schools of concern, say some

The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) released the 2012 School Classifications list Friday outlining the progress of institutions throughout the state. Warwick’s schools fell mainly within the “typical” range, avoiding both highly negative and positive ratings.

School Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Maloney said he isn’t pleased with the ratings, and he doubts parents will be either.

“They’re lower than I want them to be,” said Maloney of the scores. “I don’t think they paint a perfect picture, but it shows there’s work that needs to be done.”

The 2012 Classifications were the first to be released under the new Rhode Island Accountability System, which aims to identify and aid low-performing schools. The 2012 Classifications were based on several components, including student proficiency, growth, improvement, graduation and gap closing (how well the school serves all students, including those with disabilities).

The scores, with a possible maximum of 100, were then boiled down into classifications: “commended,” “leading,” “typical,” “warning,” “focus” or “priority.”
RIDE identified 26 “commended” schools, 11 “focus” schools and 18 “priority” schools, none of which are in Warwick.

The 11 “focus” schools were all newly identified, as well as five of the 18 “priority” schools. Both “focus” and “priority” schools are the lowest achieving in the state and are therefore subject to state intervention.

According to a press release issued by RIDE on Friday, the 29 lowest-scoring schools will undergo a diagnostic process in the following months. By November, superintendents of those schools will identify an intervention model and by January, districts will develop school-reform plans. The plans will cover up to five years for “priority” schools, and up to three years for “focus” schools.

Lesser plans for improvement will also be implemented for schools that received a “warning” classification, but with minimal RIDE oversight. Seven Warwick schools earned a “warning” rating. Superintendent Peter Horoschak was not available for comment as of press time.

But the numerical scores and classifications listed did not always go hand in hand. For some schools, earning a score greater than 70 did not guarantee the school rated at or above “typical,” as was the common trend. But why is that?

Elliott Krieger, executive assistant to Commissioner Deborah Gist, explained that an extremely low score in a particular category swayed the school’s classification even if they scored well in the other areas.

For example, Randall Holden Elementary School, which received an overall score of 71, received a “warning” classification. Other area elementary schools that scored nearly 20 points less than Holden still achieved a higher “typical” rating. Krieger said Randall Holden’s lowered classification was due to an extremely low score in the student growth category. The school earned five out of a possible 25 points.

The student growth category is based on NECAP scores, but Krieger said the rubric doesn’t make it harder for already high-achieving schools to earn all possible points in that area. Instead, he said that high-achieving students are compared to their counterparts in other schools. Those at Randall Holden, he explained, showed less growth than their high-achieving peers, pushing the otherwise high-scoring school into the lesser category.

Maloney contested the NECAPs aren’t the “end all be all” of determining student proficiency, and believes there are more accurate ways to measure the efficacy of teachers and the progress of their students.

He also said the data may reveal more upon further study than initially inferred. For example, if test scores for seventh graders are down from three years ago, they may be up from fourth grade scores three years ago – a sign the specific group of students are showing growth.

In addition, Maloney believes the Warwick ratings reflect a lack of increased funding.

“We haven’t had an adequate increase in funding in the last four years,” he said. “We’re starting to see some issues.”

Five out of the 16 Warwick elementary schools earned a “warning” classification while the remaining 11 received “typical” ratings. Both Aldrich and Winman Junior High received the “warning” classification, while Gorton and the three high schools were labeled “typical.”

“I don’t think I’m satisfied [with the scores],” said Maloney. “We’re going to make things better.”

School Committee Chairwoman Beth Furtado said Monday she hadn’t had much time to pore over the data and determine if it matches her perception of the schools in the city. However, she said if the scores are accurate, the classifications should help the School Committee determine the changes they need to make.
Maloney said the School Committee will discuss the 2012 School Classification at a future meeting, and encourages the public to attend.

For a table of full scores by city, town or grade level, visit www.ride.ri.gov/DataWorks.


2012 SCHOOL CLASSIFICATIONS (out of 100 possible points)

Elementary School:

Cedar Hill, 63.33, Typical
Hoxsie School, 48.83, Warning
Robertson School, 65.50, Typical
John Brown Francis, 53.17, Typical
Greenwood, 55.00, Typical
Harold F. Scott, 69.17, Typical
Holliman School, 50.83, Typical
John Wickes, 43.83, Warning
Lippitt School, 57.83, Typical
Norwood School, 47.83, Warning
Oakland Beach, 60.50, Warning
Park School, 64.83, Typical
Randall Holden, 71.00, Warning
Sherman School, 53.33, Typical
Warwick Neck School, 51.83, Typical
Wyman, 59.00, Typical

Junior High:
Aldrich, 54.17, Warning
Gorton, 54.50, Typical
Winman, 50.67, Warning

High School:
Pilgrim, 59.33, Typical
Toll Gate, 66.67, Typical
Warwick Vets, 50.83, Typical


Comments
8 comments on this item

Meanwhile, I just received my tax bill and I now have the privilage of spending nearly 100.00 a week to remain in my home. $60.00 or more of that goes to 'typical' schools or worse. That's not even counting the car taxes. I just got charged almost 100 bucks for a 14 year old vehicle.

This is a disgrace. All the money taxpayers have given the school dept. and this is the best they can do.....we all know Rosemary Healy runs the school dept.....let's fire her first.

"In addition, Maloney believes the Warwick ratings reflect a lack of increased funding."

I find both the Jr High and High School my daughters go to a total disgrace. I wish I had more money to send them to private schools because I think all the red tape and petty local politics have created a very bad environment for my children to be educated. The teachers themselves have spoken to the students about how awful the school system is and how discouraged they are. The teachers even agree! And again we hear the same lament coming from the taxpayers - Where is all my money going? What are you doing with the money I have paid out in taxes? We have nothing to show for our taxes except for over-inflated administrative salaries, crumbling infrastructures and poor performing students. Now are your going to turn around and say we are just "typical" because we lack funds so hey, Mr. Taxpayer, you will have to pay even more?

As consumers we need to get what we pay for and we have't seen any results from what we have paid. Therefore, do not look to us to help you get out of the hole you have dug but get your act together and fix the problem you created.

If achievement is linked to "funding", parents would be fleeing places such as Hendricken ($12k per student) like the plague and seeking the more enriching pastures of the Providence ($18k+ per student) public schools. As we know, that's not the case. Warwick now spends in excess of $16,000 per student. Full-time tuition+fees at URI is over $6,000 less! Hey Mr. Maloney, you have PLENTY of money. Here's a thought: Close a high school!! They were built for 2000 kids and now house 1000. Privatize custodial services. Regionalize purchasing practices. Transition to a defined contribution retirement plan for new employees. These practices would have been employed decades ago in the dreaded private sector. "adequate increase in funding..." Laughable.

Absolutely deplorable!

Isn't it up to like 85 cents of every dollar going into City Hall is going to the school system? This is unreal, the schools operate over their budget EVERY YEAR!, and continue to scream about better contracts, give us resutls and you'll have the contracts you disire.

I love how Maloney indicates that he doesn't think parents will be pleased!!!! YOU THINK! The schools recieved a Typical=C the Teachers get an F!

I agree with the other comments. This is frustrating to see after all the money the City of Warwick and its taxpayers are pouring into the teachers salaries. First of all, when the Police, Fire, and other city employees were paying more for benefits, less pay, no raises, etc... the teachers continued to only pay the 11 dollar co-pay for health coverage. They had no concessions to ease the burden on the tax payers that the other unions contributed. They take up 85 percent of the city budget and this is what we are paying for ? The teachers should not be using the students as a venting source. In stead, they should be happy they have jobs and teaching their asses off ! I'm sorry but teachers have the best gig. A lot of time off, great benefits and pay. I'm not writing this as the jealous person, I'm writing this as a exhausted tax payer.

Closing schools is a good idea, however the down side is the large classes on the other end. I think large classes is harmful to the kids that need extra help.

Privatizing is a bad idea. There probably would be a bunch of illegal immigrants cleaning the schools if the jobs were privatized just like in landscaping and other such jobs.

If the city wants to get serious about taxing its residents to death, and lowering debt than the school admin. is the place to start cutting the fat, if you will. It makes perfect sense to bring that 85 % down to 50 %.

Michael,

All three high schools were built to accomodate 2000 kids. Each now has about 1000 kids. If you close one (and this WILL happen), the two remaining schools will each have about 1500 kids, or about 500 less than capacity. And, there is no empirical evidence to support the notion that smaller classes enhance achievement until the number gets down to an 8 to 1 student:teacher ratio.

Obviously, any company bidding on a school cleaning contract would have to sign an affidavit confirming that only legal US residents are in their employ. Have you seen the condition of some of the schools, especially the high schools, with public sector union custodians???? Deplorable, and try firing a union custodian for poor performance as you could with private contractors.

It's time to stop rearranging the deck chairs on this sinking ship!!

@Maxwell and @Michael2012: To find the tax breakdown between the city and schools look no futher than your property tax bill.

Schools get approximately 53% of taxes. The city 47%. Over the last 4 out of 5 years school budget has been level funded. That means 100% of the tax increase has gone to the city side of the budget.

Do schools need to continue to cut costs and consolidate - absolutely. But stop giving Mayor Avedisian and the city council and the unions a pass.

Employee benefits, pensions and life time healthcare costs are driving up taxes in the city and its going to get worse as time goes on.

Have are real facts based on official city budget documents concerning city and school spending:

• Since 2007 local tax dollars to support the Warwick school budget has increased only $5.5 million or 4.9 percent overall, while the city budget has increased by $33.7 million or 52.8 percent overall

• Total school spending remains below 2008 level, while city spending continues to increase to record levels each year.

• The total percentage of local tax dollars allocated to schools has been reduced 14 percent even though schools employ more employees. The city allocation has increased 25 percent.

• Continued property tax increases in the City of Warwick can be directly attribute to city spending, not schools.

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