To our friends and colleagues who are interested in our performance on the new, state standardized RICAS, what follows is a breakdown. We also want to take this moment to say that the rates of proficiency -particularly for our children of color – on this test and those in prior years are unacceptable. Our children – all of our children – deserve equal access to a high quality education. At The Learning Community, through our work with other public schools, we know that the cycle of blame that typically follows the public release of state standardized test results, where parents and teachers are repeatedly bashed – is not only wrong, but completely off-base. Our children can’t perform at high levels because our public school teachers, by and large, are not regarded as professionals by our district operations. However well-intended our districts are, they do not systematically listen to teachers. This may seem like a small thing but when teachers aren’t consulted, there is no way to know what they need to support students making every plan after that, doomed to fail. This also means teachers are not prepared well and they are not supported. In fact, we have undermined and even infantilized teachers with ever changing targets and tests, scripted curriculum, politically driven educational spending and key decision-making systems that are in no way driven by teacher’s voices. Please let our next state-wide, strategic plan begin by asking a group of talented teachers.
While it’s clear that we have much to learn about the RICAS as a school, The Learning Community is especially proud that, across grades 3 – 8, In both math and ELA, The Learning Community’s low-income students, Latino students, Black students, and English Language Learners (active & monitored) reached proficiency at a higher rate than their demographic peer groups in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Boston. As a whole school, we have reached proficiency at a higher rate than Rhode Island overall in both math (33% LC, 27% RI) and English Language Arts (39% LC, 34% RI), despite a student population with dramatically higher proportions of low-income students (83% LC, 51% RI), students of color (95% LC, 43% RI), Latino students (79% LC, 25% RI), English Language Learners (32% LC, 10% RI), and urban students (98% LC, 35% RI).
In the elementary grades (Grades 3 – 5), The Learning Community’s students reached proficiency on RICAS at a higher rate than Rhode Island overall in both math (43% LC, 30% RI) and ELA (49% LC, 39% RI). The Learning Community’s elementary grades students reached proficiency at a higher rate than 70% of all Rhode Island elementary schools in math and 62% of all Rhode Island elementary schools in ELA, including 100% of urban schools and 91% of urban ring schools in math and 98% of urban schools and 70% of urban ring schools in ELA.
In the middle grades (Grades 6 – 8), The Learning Community’s students reached proficiency on RICAS at nearly the same rate as Rhode Island overall in math (22% LC, 25% RI) and at the same rate as Rhode Island overall in ELA (29%). The Learning Community’s middle grades students reached proficiency at a higher rate than 49% of all Rhode Island middle schools in math and 51% of all Rhode Island middle schools in ELA, including 100% of urban schools in both math and ELA and 62% of urban ring schools in math and 69% of urban ring schools in ELA.
Our students and our team have already begun strategic analysis of our performance at each grade level and standard in order to inform revisions in our curriculum and instructional strategy. We are excited to see continued growth from here.
Meg O’Leary and Sarah Friedman, Co-Directors