By PAUL J. SPETRINI
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) unveiled its 2012 School Classifications ranking system last Friday afternoon and while the four elementary, middle and high schools in Exeter-West Greenwich were labeled as “typical” or average on the six-category system, results were much more mixed, and brighter, for North Kingstown.
With 88.4 percent of students testing proficient in reading and 86.1 percent proficient in math, Hamilton Elementary School was one of 26 schools in the state to receive the “Commended School” ranking, RIDE’s highest mark on its initial set of classifications under the new Rhode Island Accountability System.
According to RIDE, the method recognizes Hamilton as a school with the “highest index scores in the state and no achievement gaps.”
The Salisbury Ave-based elementary school was acknowledged “because of either high performance or significant progress” and was one of three NK schools to receive above-average marks in the new system, with Stony Lane Elementary and Wickford Middle both classified as “Leading Schools,” a distinction for institutes with an index score ranging from 70-76.
“With our new system of accountability, support and intervention, we are using multiple criteria to measure school performance, and we will work with low-achieving schools to focus on their specific problems and to develop and implement plans for school improvement,” RIDE Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah A. Gist said in a press release. “We look forward to using our new accountability system as we work together with students, teachers and school leaders to accelerate all Rhode Island schools toward greatness.”
The only note of concern for North Kingstown came courtesy of Fishing Cove Elementary’s “Warning” ranking.
The new classifications range lists a “Warning School” as one that “can be identified by any of seven criteria: index score less than 50; Proficiency of 10 or fewer points; Gap-closing of fewer than 15 points; Growth of 7.5 points or fewer; Improvement plus Graduation of 10 points or fewer; low graduation rate over time; or Participation rate of less than 95 percent.”
In Fishing Cove’s case, it was an index score of 48.5 points that triggered the distinction, though the school’s score of two points on a 10-point scale measuring progress toward 2017 target numbers, in a district with an average of eight points, is certainly a cause for concern going forward.
RIDE’s new classification ranks schools in one of six categories: commended, leading, typical, warning, focus and priority.
The new system, according to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, will enable the state to “give our schools the support they need to overcome challenges and to improve student achievement.”
“This is an important step forward as we work to provide a world-class education for all Rhode Island students,” he said.
North Kingstown High (65.2), Davisville Middle (56.7), Forrest Park Elementary (54.0) and Suzanne M. Henseler Quidnessett Elementary (51.2) were all listed as “typical”, with an index score ranging from 50-70.
The same can be said for Exeter-West Greenwich Senior High (67.7), EWG Junior High (60.5), Metcalf Elementary (56.3) and Wawaloam Elementary (66.0).
North Kingstown Superintendent Dr. Philip Auger is on vacation until August and could not be reached for comment. Exeter-West Greenwich’s newly-appointed superintendent, James Erinakes, officially began the position yesterday and was unavailable for comment prior to the Standard-Times’ deadline.