The Rhode Island Department of Education has released its first-ever accountability report in the region, highlighting key difficulties across the state with English language proficiency and slow recovery from learning loss caused by the pandemic.
The Local Education Agency Accountability Report—required by a state’s Education Accountability Act of 2019—provides scores on a range of matters, including student performance, graduation rates, and school quality. Districts and charter schools are evaluated. Here’s what’s in the report:
Which regions have the lowest and highest scores?
Among the counties with the lowest scores are Central Falls, Newport, Providence and Pawtucket, all of which lack in multiple areas including English language proficiency and graduation and achievement rates, which are measured using SATs, Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Assessment System and other tests.
Barrington was the highest rated area on most criteria.
Thirty-one counties and charters receive poor English language proficiency scores
In general, the level of English language proficiency among multilingual learners was startlingly low. Only one district, Barrington, had a high aptitude score, while RISE Prep Mayoral Academy and SouthSide Charter School were the only two documents with a high score.
Overall, 31 districts and charters received poor scores for English language proficiency. Ten fell into the middle range.
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“I am very concerned about our multilingual learners,” state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante Green said on a call with reporters Thursday. “I think residents have been really affected, they really need support, and in all counties across the state, they need more support.”
Just two days ago, lawmakers and advocates for multilingual learners held a press conference at the State House library, calling for more focus on students’ native languages, rather than just English.
Infante-Green said more bilingual programs should be created, because “we know that if a student is bilingual, they will learn English a lot faster.”
Many independent schools are underperforming
Most of the charters in the state have received a poor to average rating.
More than half a dozen state charters have generally poor scores, including Highlander and Nuestro Mundo, while several others, including Achievement First and Paul Cuffee, also have lackluster scores.
However, Infante-Green described the effects of COVID-19 as having had a “cross-cutting effect,” adding that it “depends on the students they serve.”
How does this differ from current state assessments?
The new report differs from the star ratings given to individual schools—a rating the state launched in 2018 as part of its effort to track performance under federal law. The commissioner said the district-by-region report aims to provide “depth snapshots” which “show more detail”.
Data is central to our efforts [to] Moving Rhode Island’s education system forward and better serving our students, K-12 Board President Patty DiCenso said in a statement. “The Board remains committed to ensuring that students, families, school staff, and leaders have access to the tools and resources to improve their academic achievement.
Could the pandemic’s toll last longer than expected?
Although the Department of Education expects schools to take three to five years to recover from the impact of the pandemic on education, the commissioner has expressed some uncertainty.
“It’s hard to tell,” said Infante Green. “That’s our prediction. We’ll see this year. It’s not going to be a straight line. We hope it’s going to be a straight line, but we just don’t know.”