Class notes: school closures, high stakes testing

Feb 1, 2013

Photo by PaulSteinJC.

Schools close as budgets stretch and buildings age

East Providence is closing Oldham Elementary School citing the high cost of upgrading the building. The district has faced serious deficits in the past, contributing to municipal financial woes. The Providence Journal reports that district officials Oldham would have needed an estimated $2 million in renovations to stay open. As a result of the closure, some students will be shifted to other schools.

Meanwhile, Warwick is talking about closing a middle school. A facilities committee discussed the idea at a meeting this week, although no decisions have been made. Warwick currently operates three middle schools, but the city’s school-aged population has been shrinking.

Students talk high stakes testing with Gov. Chafee

High School students met with Governor Lincoln Chafee this week to ask him to reconsider using testing as a graduation requirement. The students argue that a heavy focus on standardized testing is detrimental to their education, and it may make it difficult for hundreds of students to graduate next year.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist shows no sign of backing down on the testing requirement. She says lowering expectations would do a disservice to students. Plus, with no education board currently in session, there is no governing body to reverse or delay the testing requirement.

Charter school expands reading program

The Learning Community, a charter school based in Central Falls, will work with four elementary schools in Woonsocket and one in Smithfield to help teachers improve the way they teach reading. The charter school has gained national attention for its work with Central Falls district schools, where teachers have been learning the charter school’s reading methods for several years now. Students at the Learning Community score proficient or better on state tests of reading at a much higher rate than their counterparts in the Central Falls school district.

Florist slapped with discrimination lawsuit

A Cranston florist now faces a lawsuit for religious discrimination for refusing to deliver a bouquet to Jessica Ahlquist. You may remember the Cranston High School West student and self-proclaimed atheist successfully brought a legal challenge to a prayer banner in the high school auditorium. My colleague Catherine Welch’s report on the lawsuit is here.

Bryant University turns 150

Bryant University kicks off its 150th birthday party Friday with students, faculty and Governor Lincoln Chafee. The university in Smithfield is planning a series of events plus an exhibit of historic photos and a new logo. Bryant was founded in 1863 and currently serves just under 3,400 undergraduate students.