2011-10-13 / Front Page

Jamestown children test well above state average

BY MARGO SULLIVAN

According to data that the state education department made public Sept. 27, Jamestown children aced the latest round of standardized science achievement tests.

Statewide, 43 percent of fourthgrade students and 25 percent of the eighth-graders achieved “proficiency” in science, according to Elliot Krieger, spokesman for state Department of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.

By comparison, a hefty 77 percent of Jamestown fourth-graders and 63 percent of Lawn Avenue School eighth-graders performed at the profi- cient or better level.

That combined result was better than almost any other area school district.

“I’m very pleased with the progress I’m seeing,” Superintendent Marcia Lukon said. But she also suggested the fourth- and eighth-grade students should not expect to rest on their laurels too long.

“The truth is,” Lukon said, profi- ciency on the NECAP represents a “pretty low” standard. She wants the Jamestown students to routinely reach the top level, proficient with distinction.

“We had more this year than we did last year,” she said, but the percentages are still in the single digits, with 8 percent of the fourth-graders and 2 percent of the eighth-graders reaching the highest level.

The state tends to focus on districts attaining proficiency, she said, but not to show how districts are moving students up.

NECAP scores are reported at four levels – with 4 representing proficient with distinction; 3 for proficient; 2 for partially proficient and 1 for substantially below proficient. Last time, 12 percent of the fourth-graders scored in the 1s, Lukon said, but this time, no fourth-graders and only two eighthgraders tested at the lowest level.

Results for the Jamestown 11thgraders, who attend North Kingstown High School, could not be separated from North Kingstown’s scores, Lukon said.

“They’re all just lumped in,” she said, but in the future, it will be feasible to break out the Jamestown students’ results. Lukon said Jamestown and North Kingstown are collaborating on a “new data system” that will allow educators to extract test results by hometown.

“That’s been a problem for us to follow our kids once they leave us,” she said. The Jamestown teachers and administration want to know how well the students have been prepared for secondary school, and find out if they’re “choosing challenging courses,” Lukon said.

Only 30 percent of North Kingstown High students rated as proficient or better on the NECAP, while 53 percent ranked as partially proficient and the rest were rated substantially below proficient.

East Greenwich 11th-graders, however, ranked first statewide. Their scores made their school the first high school in R.I. to achieve 60 percent proficiency, Krieger said.

By comparison, 57 percent at Barrington High, 54 percent at Portsmouth High, 44 percent at Middletown High, 42 percent at Narragansett, and 40 percent at Newport’s Roger High scored in the 3 or 4 levels.

East Greenwich fourth-graders weighed in with 78 percent at profi- ciency, beating Jamestown by one percentage point, but Jamestown eighthgraders made up the difference. Only 53 percent of the East Greenwich eighth-graders scored in the 3s and 4s, compared to Jamestown’s 63 percent.

In Barrington, 65 percent of the fourth-graders and 69 percent of the eighth-graders scored in the 3s and 4s. In Little Compton, 71 percent of the fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders made proficiency or better.

North Kingstown’s fourth-grade and eighth-grade students tested at 62 percent and 57 percent proficiency, respectively. In Portsmouth, 58 percent of fourth-graders and 42 percent of eighth-graders scored in the 3s and 4s. In Middletown, the data showed 38 percent of the fourth-graders and 37 percent of the eighth-graders in the 3s and 4s, while in Newport, 40 percent of the fourth grade and 18 percent of the eighth grade made proficiency.

Overall, 32 percent of Rhode Island fourth-, eighth- and 11th-grade youngsters tested at the proficient level. Although thatnumberrepresentsa3percent improvement over the last round of NECAP science scores, the Ocean State still lags behind New Hampshire and Vermont, Krieger said.

All R.I. students took the NECAP, and the results show students from all backgrounds can achieve, Gist said during a news conference at Mount Hope High in the Bristol-Warren School District. The setting was chosen to draw attention to the fact that the school had revised its science and math program and improved its NECAP science results by 17 points, Krieger said. Mount Hope High 11thgraders tested this year at 37 percent proficient, up from 20 percent last time, Krieger said.

Gist also singled out several other districts which had improved, including East Providence and Westerly. Middletown and North Kingstown also won recognition for improving grade 11 and grade eight results, Krieger said.

“I want to congratulate the many schools and districts that are leading the way and that made significant progress this year on the NECAP science assessments,” Gist said. “Today’s results clearly show that students from all schools and all backgrounds can meet challenging standards. Though today we are recognizing some schools and districts for the progress they have made, we expect to see signifi cant gains in every district in the coming years. Our goal is to advance achievement for all students and to close achievement gaps across the state.”

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