Archive for January, 2008

At the December 18th meeting of  the Board of Regents, members of the community were invited to comment on the effect of teachers’ contracts on education.  Several members of the ESPEC Steering Committee attended. Our comments tended to focus on criticism of bumping, which was discussed at our most recent public forum.

We are passing on the Regents’ request for further public comment.  The most effective comments will focus on how provisions of the teachers’ contract have affected the education your children receive in public schools.  I suppose, though, that if the contract provisions have lead you to take or keep your child out of the public schools, that would be useful too. If you wish to offer comment, you may do so in an email to Sharon Osborne of the Regents’ staff.


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Friday, January 11, 10am-noon, at MLK, 35 Camp Street. Tours will be given by principal Michael Lazzareschi and parents. MLK offers tours most Friday mornings. Please call the school at 456-9398 to sign up for a Friday tour.

The MLK Parent-Teacher Organization also invites prospective parents to our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. International Potluck on Wednesday, January 16 from 5-7pm in the MLK Cafeteria (enter from the Carrington Avenue side of the building). This is a great way to get to know King’s vibrant family community, to meet current parents and students, and to get to know MLK better! If you are interested in joining us, please contact MLK PTO President Jill Davidson at jill.davidsonATgmail.com.

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ESPEC Steering Committee member Sam Zurier writes a regular column on Education for East Side Monthly. This month’s column, which can be found at http://www.providenceonline.com/eastsidemonthly/education.html is reproduced below.

Grading on a Curve

In a letter published in December’s East Side Monthly, a writer questioned whether my assessment of the East Side’s public schools suffers from “grade inflation.” The writer, David V. Anderson, Ph.D., runs a for-profit educational consulting company called Asora Education Enterprises. His letter presents an interesting combination of valid questions, ill-founded criticisms and unrealistic proposals.

The premise of his letter is that the Federal government has developed a national standardized test called the NAEP that measures achievement by all school children at the “basic” and “proficient” levels, providing a set of scores each year for children in the fourth and eighth grades. In the meantime, educators from Rhode Island, Vermont and Massachusetts have developed a test called the NECAP to measure achievement in English and mathematics against a set of standards for each grade. As Dr. Anderson notes, a consistently larger percentage of Rhode Island children score at the “proficient” level on the State’s NECAP test in comparison to the percentage rated as “proficient” according to the federal NAEP test. From this, he advances the proposition that the NECAP assessments are inflated and our East Side schools are “dysfunctional.”

In my opinion, this is a ridiculous statement. The premise is not correct, as the national NAEP test’s “proficient” score is not intended to provide a standard for every student’s achievement. Instead, many experts say that the NAEP’s better measure of minimal grade-level achievement is the percentage of students who attain the “basic” level on that test. The “proficient” standard under Rhode Island’s NECAP test is more rigorous than the NAEP’s “basic” standard, although admittedly the terminology is somewhat confusing. More generally, Rhode Island’s NECAP standards are less rigorous that some of the country’s toughest (such as Massachusetts), but overall more stringent than the country’s average, and significantly better than many of the country’s lagging states, such as Texas. In short, it is far from clear that the NECAP test standard is a “problem.”


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