With the release of Rhode Island public schools’ first results on the Common Core–aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests, the state’s new education commissioner, Ken Wagner, told the Providence Journal that the shock people felt came from the fact that the prior standardized test — the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) — had been “masking” districts’ true performance.
That statement ought to be particularly disconcerting in Tiverton. Although the town’s elementary and middle schools outperformed the statewide average and managed to bring more than half of test takers to the point of meeting or exceeding expectations for their grade levels in English language arts (ELA), the results collapsed in Tiverton High School. Only 27% of Tiverton’s high-school-level test takers met or exceeded expectations in ELA, and a meager 8% did so in math. That compares with 54% and 32% in Portsmouth High School and 32% and 12% for the entire state at the high school level.