2013-02-28 / Front Page

Test results show rising performance

Math proficiency is best in state for noncharter schools
BY TIM RIEL

The state Department of Education released its 2012 NECAP scores this month, and island students continue to do well, improving in reading and math in both the 2011 comparison and the fiveyear breakdown. Excluding charter schools, math proficiency in Jamestown is now the best in the state, surpassing Barrington.

The New England Common Assessment Program evaluates juniors in high school and children in grades 3 through 8. The report doesn’t include Jamestown 11th-graders in the district’s performance since they are enrolled in North Kingstown High School or off-island private and charter schools.

For all grades combined, the 2012 report concluded that 88 percent of all Jamestown students are proficient in reading. That number was 84 percent in 2008 and has been steadily rising. The same goes for math, where 86 percent of Jamestown students are proficient or better. That number five years ago was 77 percent.

More Jamestown students are proficient in math than in any other noncharter school district in the state. (The Compass School is 94 percent proficient.)

“We have been working hard to improve our students’ achievement in math,” said Superintendent Marcia Lukon.

Barrington and Little Compton are right behind Jamestown at 84 percent proficiency, and the state as a whole is 57 proficient in math, 4 percent better than it was in 2008. (Rhode Island students in grades 3 through 8 are 61 percent proficient in math, but the number was derailed by a 34 percent statewide proficiency by 11th-graders.) The 73 percent statewide reading proficiencyalsoshowsa4percent increase from 2008.

Of noncharter schools, Central Falls rates the worst in both subjects, with 42 percent proficiency in reading and only 27 percent of its students proficient in math.

The most alarming number depicting Jamestown is the gap in writing proficiency between fifthgraders and eighth-graders. While the margin in writing proficiency between the district and state average is one of the best in Rhode Island (plus 18 percent), the report shows that barely half of Lawn Avenue School fifth-graders are proficient in writing. The study says that 51 percent of fifth-graders in Jamestown are proficient, which is 8 percent lower than the state average.

In the report’s breakdown of schools in each district, Lawn Avenue School is outperforming Melrose by a large margin in reading. Lawn Avenue’s 91 percent proficiency rate is one of the best in the state, while Melrose Avenue School dropped 4 percent from last year to 82 percent proficiency. In math, Lawn and Melrose are nearly identical at 86 and 85 percent, respectively, but Melrose’s number shows a 10 percent increase in the five-year breakdown.

The School Committee will announce the results at its meeting Thursday, Feb. 28. Kathy Almanzor, Jamestown’s director of curriculum, is analyzing the data and will present it at the meeting.

According to administration, the NECAP numbers can be misleading because of the large numbers of military students in such a small school district. Some students may walk in the door in September and take the test, and then transfer to another school district. Because of the small student population, each child tested represents as much as 3 percent of the total enrollment in a grade. Lukon says that Almanzor’s presentation will give the community a much more accurate view of the district’s achievements.

According to School Committee Chairwoman Cathy Kaiser, the statewide plan is to transition from the NECAP to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers by the 2014-15 school year.

The NECAP results will be explained in detail at the School Committee’s meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at Lawn Avenue School.

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