Rhode Island

2017 PARCC Results in RI: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

PARCC data is in and while the overall news isn’t good, there are some bright spots for sure including huge gains at some schools and far more students taking the SAT now that it’s free. Big shout out to all the schools that posted significant gains and/or are members of the elite club that Dan McGowan has named “The 75% Club.”

From Dan’s report:

Three elementary or middle schools in the state managed to have at least 75% of their students score proficiently on both the ELA and math sections of the PARCC: Rockwell Elementary School in Bristol, Melrose Elementary School in Jamestown and Kingston Hill Academy in South Kingstown. For ELA, Barrington Middle School, Community School in Cumberland and Wickford Middle School in North Kingstown all reached 75% proficiency or better. The only other school to hit 75% in math was Nayatt Elementary School in Barrington.

Predictably, this exclusive club is made of schools that serve small percentages of low income students and are predominantly white. Are we ok with that?

We shouldn’t be.

But Overall…

Things are flat statewide. We just didn’t see the improvement or gains we had hoped for and the numbers are cause for concern, particularly in mathematics where only three out of ten students are proficient (34% to be exact.) In ELA, that number jumps to four out of ten students scoring proficient. Our strongest performers in math are our fifth graders and our strongest in math are our third graders; but, it’s important to note that both of these grades come in below 45 percent of their students scoring proficient. That’s less than half.

The SAT further confirm that our performance is subpar. In math, only 34 percent of 11th graders hit the college and career ready score of 530. That number is stronger in reading and writing with 56 percent hitting the target score of 480. (Caveat: those benchmarks are the minimum score at which a student is deemed college/career ready. They aren’t meant to be cited as ‘strong’ or ‘excellent’ scores on the tests.)

These results just aren’t good enough. We are one of the highest spending states in the nation. Where is the return on our investment?

Achievement Gaps: The House is on Fire

My heart breaks (but my resolve grows stronger) reading this paragraph written by Dan McGowan of WPRI:

White students (49% ELA, 40% math) continue to outperform their African-American (22% ELA, 15% math) and Hispanic (22% ELA, 16% math) counterparts throughout the state when it comes to meeting or exceeding expectations on both sections of the PARCC exam, while Asian students (50% ELA, 47% math) lead the way. In a sign of how much of an emphasis the test places on comprehension of English, students still learning the language were just 5% proficient in ELA and 7% proficient in math. Only 23% of low-income students met proficiency in ELA and 17% were proficient in math, while 55% of more affluent students met or exceeded expectations in ELA and 46% were proficient in math.

There are no easy answers or solutions to these disparities but not tackling them isn’t an option. We must do whatever it takes to eradicate these gaps — and that includes looking at every school we know of, near and far, that has had success in narrowing and closing achievement gaps for poor kids of color and English language learners. I am disappointed by our overall performance as a state but I am terrified of what these numbers mean for our children and our state if we don’t go all in to turn the ship.

If Charlottesville upset us, these numbers should too. We can’t accept this status quo, especially when we know there are schools where this isn’t happening.

To see the full RI PARCC results or to look at your data by school, click here.

*this story was updated to include demographics of the schools in the “75% Club.”

What do you think?

One thought on “2017 PARCC Results in RI: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. Why are we surprised that math scores are low? If you search the Common Core standards for the word fraction, it does not appear until third grade. My second grader did not bring home any fraction work until the last month of the year, and that ‘s probably because the teacher was retiring. Instead of starting with fractions in first grade or kindergarten like they should, my daughter’s school wasted months on skip counting with on a number line. I saw whole pages devoted to two subtraction problems using counting and number lines. After using the number line which is equivalent to counting on fingers and toes, they have to explain subtracting two numbers. What a waste of time! They should have been learning multiplication and fractions. My daughter’s class will be behind in math from here until high school, but her school will tell us that the kids are struggling because the curriculum is “rigorous.”

    Has anyone looked at the PARCC test? PARCC sample tests and the released 2015 third grade math test had a question where the students are asked to look at the wrong answer to the question and explain why it is wrong. I graduated from three engineering schools, and in my entire school career I was never asked to analyze a wrong answer. I have a basement full of college textbooks and not one of them has one problem in it where the student is required to analyze a wrong answer. PARCC has writing samples on it. Who grades all these writing samples? A room full of non-teachers making $10/hr? A computer?

    Who determines the proficiency line? Who makes up the cut scores? Do they make up the cuts after the students take the test?

    I think PARCC tests the abilities of students to take the PARCC.

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