The results for last year’s RICAS assessments have been released by the Rhode Island Department of Education. The second year of the RICAS exam – a test for students in grades 3-8 which is modeled after the standard-bearing MCAS in Massachusetts – showed statewide improvement over the test’s first year of assessment in 2017/18, but education officials say it’s too soon to tell if this is indicative of a long-term positive trend in the state.
Statewide, about 30 percent of the 63,856 students assessed in the math portion met or exceeded expectations, an approximately 2.5 percent increase from the pilot year. In English Language Arts (ELA) testing, about 38.5 percent of the 63,155 students assessed met or exceeded expectations, an approximately 5 percent increase over the pilot year.
Still, about one-fifth of Rhode Island students (20.9 percent) failed to meet expectations in math, while 17.6 students failed to meet expectations in ELA. Those figures do, however, represent an approximately 1.5 percent improvement over the pilot year in math and an approximately 2 percent improvement in ELA.
“These results are moving in the right direction, but it is too early to determine a consistent trend. What is clear is that much more needs to be done to bring Rhode Island performance where it needs to be,” said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, in a press release.
The releases reported that Rhode Island still lags behind Massachusetts by 14 percentage points in ELA and 19 percentage points in math.
“We have high standards, a strong assessment, and a lot of great work happening in our schools,” Infante-Green continued in the release. “Now it’s time to stay the course and double down on the things that will move us forward, faster, in order to improve outcomes for students.”
Out of non-charter and non-specialty schools, Warwick ranked as the 10th lowest scoring district in ELA proficiency, with 37.9 percent of the 3,839 students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations. This represents a 1 percent increase over the pilot year of testing. A higher number of students (3.18 percent) exceeded expectations than in the first year (2.76 percent) and a lower number of students failed to meet expectations (12.82 percent) this past year than the pilot year (13.35 percent).
In mathematics, Warwick was the 9th lowest scoring district, with 26.51 percent of the 3,833 students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations on the RICAS. This actually represents a tiny decrease over the number of students deemed proficient in the pilot year, when 26.72 percent of students met or exceeded expectations. Both the number of students failing to meet expectations and the number of students exceeding expectations saw insignificant improvements over the pilot year.
In terms of total students assessed, the 3,839 students assessed in ELA represents 98.49 percent of the total students in the district, an increase from 97.7 percent of students being assessed in the pilot year. A fewer percent of students (98.18) actually took the math portion than in 2017/18 (98.32 percent).
Cranston ranked as the 12th-lowest district in terms of ELA proficiency, with 41.43 percent of the 4,670 students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations. This represents an impressive 6 percent increase over the pilot year, when 35.45 percent of students ranked as proficient. Cranston also saw its percent of students exceeding expectations jump from 2.62 percent in the pilot year to 4.13 percent this past year, as well as a decrease in the number of students failing to meet expectations (15.6 percent the pilot year) to 13.19 percent this past year.
In math proficiency, Cranston ranked as the 11th lowest district with 27.93 percent of the 4,704 students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations. This represents an approximately 5 percent increase over the pilot year (22.89 percent). Cranston nearly doubled its percent of students exceeding expectations in math from 1.19 percent in the pilot year to 2.02 percent this past year.
The total number of students assessed dropped insignificantly from the pilot year both in ELA and math, from 98.32 percent of total students assessed in ELA in 2017/18 to 98.18 this past year, and 99.42 percent assessed in math in 2017/18 to 99.14 percent this past year.
Johnston ranked as the 9th lowest district in ELA proficiency, with 36.12 percent of the 1,484 students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations. However, this represents a nearly 9 percent increase over the pilot year, when 27.5 percent of students were assessed as proficient. The number of students exceeding expectations in ELA went from 1.91 percent in the pilot year to 3.37 this past year, and the number of students failing to meet expectations dropped from 18.46 percent to about 14 percent this past spring.
In math proficiency, Johnston was ranked as the 8th-lowest scoring district, with 25.22 percent of the 1,487 students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations. This represents an approximately 3 percent increase over the pilot year. The number of students exceeding expectations increased from just over 1 percent in 2017/18 to 1.41 percent this past year. The number of students not meeting expectations dropped from 19.36 percent in 2017/18 to just over 16 percent this past year.
The total number of students assessed dropped slightly both in mathematics and ELA, with 99.29 percent of students assessed in math in 2017/18 versus 98.8 percent this past year and 98.96 percent assessed in ELA in 2017/18 versus 98.87 percent assessed this past year.
The lowest scoring district in Rhode Island was Central Falls, where only 7.9 percent of the 1,269 students assessed in mathematics met or exceeded expectations, and over 50 percent of those students failed to even partially meet expectations. Of the 1,171 students assessed in ELA in Central Falls, only 12.6 met or exceeded expectations, while 43.38 percent failed to even partially meet expectations.
The highest scoring district was Barrington, where about 73 percent of the 1,570 students assessed in ELA met or exceeded expectations, and 64.5 percent of the 1,572 students assessed in math met or exceeded expectations.
The state’s biggest and most publicly embattled district, Providence, also did not fare well, with 40.8 percent of the over 11,000 students assessed in mathematics failing to even partially meet expectations, and only about 12 percent meeting or exceeding expectations. These numbers are slightly better in ELA, with about 17.2 percent of students exceeding or meeting expectations and about 35 percent failing to partially meet expectations.
The full assessment results can be assessed by going to lms.backpack.education/public/ride and can be broken down in interactive charts to compare individual districts and schools. State school officials look to release further accountability data in November.
“As we complete a second year of testing, we are reminded of how much work we have to do, but incredible possibilities lie ahead if we all follow through on this long-term vision for education,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education. “Our students and families deserve nothing less.”