Friday, September 23, 2011

Maybe the Pawtucket Schools Will Fall Apart

City Councilman Bryan Principe, whose neighborhood lost three schools this summer, asked what Lusi was doing to keep more schools from being labeled as low-performing, which triggers intervention and possible closure.
Lusi said she shared his outrage over the city’s historic neglect of the public schools, and said it is “horrendous” that students are leaving the system unprepared for college or careers.
The actual answer to this question is "hoping Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Newport get worse," because how much Providence schools improve in absolute terms does nothing to get off the "persistently low achieving" list. What matters is improvement relative to the rest of the state, most of which is much wealthier than Providence's public school population. Here's the list of RI districts with over 50% students receiving free or reduced lunches:

District # of Schools % FRL
Providence 53* 83
Central Falls 8 81
Pawtucket 18 75
Woonsocket 11 63
Newport 6 59

Put another way, only six of 41 PPSD schools last year had a poverty rate lower than the overall FRL rate for Pawtucket, the third school on the list above.

So the question is, how are all our schools going to pass all their schools despite our more difficult population. Even if we do pass some of the other district's schools, there just aren't that many of them. One of the few things we could definitely do is get rid of Classical High School, which depresses the ratings of the rest of the district high schools. It is a disadvantage our competitors don't have. Of course that's the last thing that's going to happen.

Anyhow, any NCLB waiver for RI that retains draconian punishment for the "lowest 5%" doesn't help Providence.

* these overall counts from InfoWorks include charters, a few already closed schools, etc.

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