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SK School Committee focuses on UCOA and special education

August 15, 2011

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Students in South Kingstown are currently on par in reading and math with students in other districts according to cohort data released at the school committee's annual retreat Wednesday afternoon at the Peace Dale Elementary library.

The retreat, which lasted from 8 a.m to 3:30 p.m. allowed the school committee and school administrators to review Unified Chart of Accounts (UCOA) data for the district and student achievement, specifically focusing on special education students or IEP students. In addition to the school department, town councilor Mary Eddy also attended for the town council, who was invited after the school committee and town could not find an available meeting time to discuss the 2011-2012 school budget and Reconfiguration Action Committee's recommendation for school reorganization.

South Kingstown is within the same cohort comparison group as the Chariho, Lincoln, North Kingstown, Portsmouth districts. In reviewing the district data, Assistant Superintendent Mary Kelley said there is little difference between South Kingstown and the other schools. For instance, 82 percent of elementary students are at the appropriate reading level, while 83 percent of Chariho students are, which is a difference of about one to two students. For elementary math, 82 percent of South Kingstown students are at the appropriate level, while 83 percent of Portsmouth students are and 82 percent of Chariho students are. For high school reading, 85 percent of South Kingstown students are at the level, while 91 percent of students in Portsmouth are and 85 percent of Chariho students are.

For middle school reading, 83 percent of South Kingstown students, 84 percent of Portsmouth students and 83 percent of Chariho students are at the appropriate level. For high school math, 58 percent of South Kingstown students have reached the adequate level, while 48 percent of Chariho students have. Portsmouth also received 58 percent.

According to UCOA data, South Kingstown spends more than any of its peers on special education. UCOA is a system of financial reporting that tells how schools, districts, and the state spend tax dollars on education and compares financial data across school districts.

“As we approach budget season, we want to be informed by UCOA data but we don't want to be pigeoned-holed in an area where we start spending less in the area because everyone else is. Why do we spend so much on special education more than our peers? How can we drill down to make sure our money is well spent,” School Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow said.

For more information, pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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