standardized testing

Elisabeth Harrison

After just two years of PARCC, there is little longitudinal data to help us understand how students and their schools are doing. But one of the promises of PARCC was that it would allow state-by-state comparisons of achievement, so let’s see what we can learn by comparing scores from Rhode Island with our high-achieving neighbor to the north: Massachusetts.

RIPR file photo

Fewer than one in three Rhode Island students is proficient in science, according to results from the most recent round of state science testing. Scores for 8th graders have shown no gains since the state began administering the test in 2008.

Some 30,000 students in grades 4, 8 and 11 took the test, known as the NECAP Science Test, in May. Roughly 29 percent scored proficient or better, a slight decrease from last year.

Average scores were better for elementary students than for middle or high school students, but no districts reported significant gains this year.

RIPR file photo

By 2025, 75 percent of Rhode Island's third graders will be "proficient or better" in reading, according to the goal announced Wednesday by Gov. Gina Raimondo. In setting the target, Raimondo cited evidence that suggests third grade reading is a strong indicator of future success in school.

"Today, I'm drawing a line in the sand and setting a clear goal for Rhode Island: By 2025, when the kids who were born this year reach third grade, three out of four will be reading at grade level," Raimondo said in a prepared statement.

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Rhode Island students scored a little bit better this spring on the annual standardized test known as PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

In the second year of the test, scores improved by an average of 5 percentage points in math and 2 percentage points in English.  But State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner said gaps between urban and suburban students showed little or no change, and in some cases worsened.

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Public schools will seek to close achievement gaps in 3rd grade reading and mathematics by 2025, under a bill signed into law this week by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The measure provides no specifics on how to close those gaps, but directs the state board overseeing K-12 education adopt it as a goal. 

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Education advocates say there’s a lot to like about the state’s new budget for public schools. That includes new funding for special education and early childhood education. But some advocates are concerned about the future of charter schools.

For more on that, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison spoke to Daniela Fairchild from the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now, a group that advocates for charter schools and higher standards for all schools, among other issues.

Elisabeth Harrison

After announcing on Friday that 10th and 11th graders would be exempt from the state's annual standardized testing, education officials walked back the policy. The state Department of Education now says all students will have to take at least one standardized math test during high school, in either Algebra I, Algebra II or Geometry.

The state is reducing requirements for PARCC, the annual state test of English and Mathematics, in the hope that more students will take PSAT and SAT exams, which increases the likelihood of applying to college. 

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The Rhode Island Department of Education has announced a new testing policy that should come as welcome news for many high school students. Under the new rules, 10th and 11th graders no longer have to take annual standardized tests of English and Mathematics.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

  Education officials are backing away from a plan to require test scores for a high school diploma. 

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Rhode Island's Department of Education has reduced slightly the percentage of students who took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a standardized test now administered annually in public schools.

State officials now say 88 percent of students took the English portion of the test, two percentage points lower than originally reported. Ninety percent of students participated in the Math test.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR FILE

Rhode Island is joining a national effort to increase reading proficiency in elementary school. New state and national test scores show major achievement gaps.

According to the new PARCC standardized test, and another known as the Nation’s Report card, low-income fourth graders are about half as likely to be reading at grade level as their peers.

The new initiative, spearheaded by the education advocacy non-profit RI Kids Count and the United Way of Rhode Island, hopes to close that gap, by the third grade.

Elisabeth Harrison

  

Now that we have results from the first year of a new standardized test, designed specifically to measure progress on the Common Core, it is fascinating to see how Rhode Island students compare to other students who took the same test.

Like Rhode Island, all of the states I have looked at so far saw significant declines in proficiency rates after switching to PARCC, but some still outperformed students in Rhode Island. I should note that not all states have released PARCC data, and a more complete comparison will be available once they do.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island has more work to do to improve public schools. That’s according to State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner, responding to test scores from PARCC, the standardized test Rhode Island is now using to measure student achievement.

PARCC was designed to measure progress on the Common Core standards, which are now guiding teachers in the state's public schools.

Results from the first year of testing showed just a quarter of Rhode Island students met expectations for Math, and a little more than a third met expectations in English.


Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

PARCC uses the language of "students meeting or exceeding expectations," whereas NECAP used the term "proficiency." Whatever you want to call it, far fewer students meet the bar on PARCC.

Gaps remain large for urban students and students of color. In Providence only about 10 percent of students met the bar in Math. In East Greenwich and Barrington, it was closer to 60 percent. 

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Test scores are due out this week for Rhode Island public school students who took the PARCC, a new standardized test linked to the Common Core standards for math and English. Rhode Island is part of a group of states that piloted the test last year.

Earlier this year millions of students took PARCC for real in about a dozen states. Roughly 75,000 students in Rhode Island took the test from 3rd grade to high school. Their scores will be the first glimpse at how the new test is working, and how Rhode Island compares to other states.

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