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In response to the âwarningâ classification East Greenwich High School received from the Rhode Island Department of Education earlier this month, EGHS Principal Michael Podraza offered a response to the classification to answer the plethora of questions being asked by many throughout the community, including members of the East Greenwich School Committee.
On July 2, East Greenwich High School was one of two schools in the town â Meadowbrook Farms School being the other â to receive a âwarningâ classification from RIDE, just one year after it received âcommendedâ status. EGHS was given a âwarningâ status for having a wider achievement gap in NECAP scores between the âPerformance Reference Group,â as stated in Podrazaâs explanation, and a subgroup of âStudents with Disabilities.â
In the five-page document, which is linked to the East Greenwich School Districtâs website, Podraza clarifies with data points that were compiled from this past school year by comparing scores in the Math and Writing categories from the NECAP examinations taken by East Greenwich High School students to the results from other schools throughout Rhode Island. Podraza, according to the document, says the âwarningâ classification is âovershadowingâ the true growth the school achieved in the 2012-13 school year.
âNeedless to say, this data, in light of the high stakes nature of NECAP on our studentsâ ability to graduate, and the impact that it has on our schoolâs classification and reputation, greatly concerns us,â Podraza states in the release. âWe have, and will continue to actively take steps to address this and any gaps that we may identify in our studentsâ learning. There is, however, other data and information that comes out as a result of this annual classification, but has not yet been disseminated to the EGHS community.â
The document states that according to the East Greenwich High Schoolâs âOfficial School Report Card,â EGHS had the had the number of examined targets almost double this year and that the school met all of those targets (9-for-9), something that wasnât the case when EGHS was a âcommendedâ school in the previous year (3-for-5).
In the area of Mathematics, Podraza states percentage of EGHS students achieving âat or above proficiencyâ in Mathematics on NECAP was 70 percent in 2013, which is a five-percent growth from the previous year and a six-percent growth over a five-year period. The document also says Barrington High School is the only other school in Rhode Island that is at or above 70 percent proficient in Mathematics â well above the state average, which is at 34 percent.
âThis growth puts further pressure on any gap that may already exist between all students and any subgroups,â Podraza says.â
Podraza adds that the percentage of East Greenwich High students achieving âsubstantially below proficientâ (or lowest NECAP score) in Mathematics decreased by three percent in 2013 from 2012, while the number of students who were tested increased.
As far as the âReading and Writingâ category is concerned, Podraza says EGHS saw a four-percent improvement from a year ago in a proficiency in âReadingâ to 95 percent, exceeding the state average, which is 79 percent. Classical High School is the only other school who has a similar ranking as East Greenwich Highâs in that category.
In âWriting,â Podraza says 75 percent of EGHS students were proficient in 2013, which is 25 percent higher than the state average. However, Podraza says that NECAP Writing scores are ânot a factorâ in school classifications and âunlike NECAP Reading and Math, RIDE has not made [Writing] an area required for graduation.â
Podraza also clarified that this past school year was the first time EGHS had enough students qualify for the subgroup âStudents with Disabilitiesâ as a category the Rhode Island Department of Education uses in determining in classification. In order to qualify for any subgroup that is factored into classifications, âthe groupâs population must be greater than or equal to 20 students.â In addition, Podraza says if a school qualifies for a subgroup, RIDE automatically creates another category that is then also used in the classifications called âsuper subgroupsâ and it occurs âeven though the schoolâs population may not qualify for the other subgroup that is factored.â
The super subgroup that EGHS has, according to the document, is called âProgramâ Super Subgroup and it âconsists of students with an IEP (Individualized Education Program) along with students who are considered ELL (English Language Learners).
As far as actions made for Math and subgroups within East Greenwich High School, Podraza says the school made âmajor changesâ to its Mathematics scope and sequence, as well as to the courses being offered to all students in Mathematics for the 2012-13 school year.
EGHS, according to Podraza, increased the number of âMath Labsâ to meet the growing need and support students for them to meet the new NECAP graduation requirement.
âThis class provides additional direct mathematics instruction by a certified Math teacher and supported with a Special Education teacher,â Podraza says. âMath labs support all students who meet local criteria as being in need of Mathematics support.â
Specialized sections of âStudy Skills,â a Special Education support class, were designated for students with IEPs who struggle in Math during the school year, Podraza says. He adds that the number of sections of Response to Intervention (RtI) (which is taught by Special Educators) was increased in order to support struggling students and a grant funded after-school program called âCheck and Connectâ was implemented in last year to support students involved in RtI.
âWe are proud of the hard work done every day by our students, teachers, staff, parents, and the support that the East Greenwich community provides to the high school,â Podraza says. âWe are confident that in the coming years, the EGHS community will rise to the challenge of closing any achievement gaps that we may encounter, whether for groups or individuals. While we continue to be proud of the education that we provide at EGHS, we will always look to improve, because we are truly driven to empower students as lifelong learners. We believe that this is best accomplished through: a commitment to implementing and achieving the highest standards, delivering personalized instruction with student choice, and promoting real and relevant skills that our students find valuable to shape their futures.â
For more information, log onto the School Districtâs website at www.egsd.net.