Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Letter to the Editor on the Closure of Feinstein High School

Dear Editor,

In the February 10 article "Central Falls superintendent acts to fire city's high school teachers," Linda Borg and Paul Davis wrote that the schools ordered restructured by State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist were "each plagued by abysmally low achievement scores and low graduation rates for several years."

This is not true in the case I am familiar with, Feinstein High School (FHS) in Providence. The ProJo noted on January 26 that FHS has a 70 percent five year graduation rate (5th among all 18 "urban" (as categorized by the state) high schools), as well as the highest rate of college enrollment and retention among the 10 Providence neighborhood high schools. Not noted was that FHS's 2008 writing scores were third among all 18 urban public high schools in Rhode Island.

FHS's 2009 NECAP (teaching year) scores are even more impressive. They have the top proficiency rates in reading, writing, and overall among the 10 Providence neighborhood high schools.

This school which serves a population of 88% economically disadvantaged and 87% Hispanic or African American students has beaten the state averages for reading proficiency in Rhode Island by 5% (78% proficient vs. 73%), New Hampshire by 5%, and Vermont by 9%.

Not only is this trifecta repeated in writing scores (by 8%, 12% and 13%, respectively), but FHS has completely closed the achievement gap in writing. Economically disadvantaged students at FHS exceed the statewide proficiency rate in writing for NON-disadvantaged students by 3%. African American and Hispanic students at FHS each match the statewide proficiency rate of white students in writing.

FHS has the third highest math scores among the 10 Providence neighborhood high schools.

As a result of the closure of Feinstein High School, every 9th through 11th grade student at the school will be moved to a lower performing school as measured by the 2009 NECAP scores. Most will end up at a nearby school where the proficiency rates are 34% lower in reading, and 44% lower in writing.

Feinstein High School is being closed, but it is not because of "abysmally low achievement scores."

Tom Hoffman
Providence, RI

Above: Chart of proficiency rates of Providence high schools on the 2009 (teaching year) NECAP exam. Blue = writing, green = reading, yellow = math.

1 comment:

Claus von Zastrow said...

A powerful letter. Let's see if it gets noticed