A look at differences in graduation rates suggests that we’re not addressing the actual problems that our students face.
The word “pleased” should not have appeared anywhere in the statement of Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner upon release of 2017 scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test:
“Nationwide, results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress remained relatively flat, and we saw a similar trend in Rhode Island,” said state Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “I’m pleased to see us perform better than the national average on fourth grade reading… I hope that our work around early literacy as part of the Third Grade Reading Challenge will speed up that progress going forward.”
That’s like being happy that your child is vomiting a little bit less than half the kids in the sick ward. Never mind that his or her fever is slightly higher, his or her bleeding out of the eyes is slightly worse, and he or she is slightly more delirious than half the children.
According to the data, Rhode Island students don’t break the 40%-proficient mark in either 4th grade or 8th grade in either math or reading (or science or writing, for that matter).
For some quick perspective take a look at the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s States on the Nation’s Report Card tool, which has been updated to include the latest data. Rhode Island’s 4th grade reading scores may be above the average state, but we used to have a lead of three points, and that’s now only two. Worse, the Ocean State’s 8th grade math scores have fallen off a cliff. Since the 2013 test, RI students’ average score has dropped from 284 to 277. That’s 2.5%. In 2013, our children were scoring the same as the average state… no longer.
More broadly, the fashionable distraction to which state bureaucrats lead, which journalists follow, is to lament that “achievement gaps between white students and students of color continue to remain stubbornly high.” This emphasis manages to imply that the real challenge isn’t a broken educational system, but institutional racism, and to lead white parents to think the state’s problems belong to other people, but it disguises the more disturbing conclusion.
Combining 4th and 8th grade scores on reading and math, black students in Rhode Island are actually slightly outperforming their peers in the average state. Hispanic students in Rhode Island do worse than in the average state, but they track closely with black students, which is more typical in our region.
The big drop in Rhode Island is actually among white students, who are the majority. Managing to keep Rhode Island’s minority students relatively flat has actually helped keep up our scores. To the extent that Rhode Island has addressed its “achievement gap,” it has been by failing white students even more.
As I wrote in 2015, the data is strongly suggestive of a change during the governorship of Democrat Lincoln Chafee that looks like a ceiling on Rhode Island’s progress in reforming education. If anything, we can now see that the trends have worsened, rather than improving, under his successor, and the spin should no longer be tolerated.
Rhode Island’s employment numbers for February look okay, until they’re put in a broader context, raising concerns that the Ocean State may miss the better part of the current economic wave.
When the governor proclaims that Rhode Island has the most jobs ever, she means people who work for other people; taking a broader view of people who would say they’re “employed,” the Ocean State still has a ways to go.
Employment and labor force may have edged up in Rhode Island, in January, but the picture is mainly one of stagnation, even as most of the rest of the country has advanced.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual revision was different, this year, in that employment was actually revised up, but that doesn’t change the slowed rate of growth under Governor Raimondo.
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics poised to revise employment numbers, Rhode Island didn’t end the year in a strong place, especially if the revision is downward, as they always seem to be.
To the extent that there are silver linings to Rhode Island’s employment report for November, they mainly have to do with other states’ slide.
There isn’t a whole lot in the October employment results for Rhode Island to brighten the holiday weekend.
With disappointing employment and jobs numbers for September, RI has no longer fully recovered from the recession and may see a large employment revision again in January.
Rhode Island’s employment numbers have done their annual downturn as the state falls the 49th on the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) after five years at 48th.
The General Assembly is irresponsible to debate and even pass legislation with no concrete sense of how much it will cost or why people don’t do as the legislators want independently.
The Rhode Island House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing right about now on DCYF and the deaths of children that had been on their radar. The Ocean State Current took a look at staffing trends at DCYF compared to those at the Department of Administration during the last three years.
Rhode Island’s employment picture is looking better, but improvements are either possible statistical aberrations, the consequence of slow growth (rather than recent policies), or undone by other economic factors.
In Seattle, a minimum wage increase like RI is considering essentially lost a bunch of people their jobs and redistributed the money to their coworkers, and a bigger increase actually decreased overall pay.
The employment picture for Rhode Island remains pretty much what it has long been: some unlikely survey results in employment and a slowing growth trend in jobs based in the state.
March saw a pretty typical trend in employment data, for Rhode Island, which isn’t really a good thing.
Positive employment and jobs numbers, for February, are in keeping with the annual phenomenon of mysterious booms that are revised away the following year.
Elected officials in Rhode Island move forward without considering the possible effects, perhaps doing more harm than good as they take more and more of Rhode Islanders’ income away.
The governor’s spin (as reprinted in the New York Times) notwithstanding, Rhode Island’s employment picture is bleak.
The data for dropouts and graduation from Rhode Island public schools adds to the impression that government education is increasingly about keeping enrollment up as long as possible.
Along with most of the country, Rhode Island saw its employment condition slip with this year’s annual employment revision.
Rhode Island’s abysmal employment and jobs numbers for 2016 erased most of the improvement of the year and returned the story to one of relative stagnation since the middle of 2015.
A University of Rhode Island physics professor’s attempt to use environmentalism in Woonsocket to attack capitalism instead raises questions about his credibility and that of Marxist environmentalism worldwide.
A shrinking labor force in conjunction with general stagnation brings Rhode Island toward the new year in a continuing funk and hope only that the national economy will lift the floor for economic suffering.
Colorado’s contrast with Washington, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, gives further indication that Rhode Island should not rush into drug legalization just yet.
Colorado’s experience with hard drugs since legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes raises enough concern that legislators and voters should wait for more data before making more policy changes.
Rhode Island’s employment picture remains largely stagnant, although the slipping labor force may be a warning sign of changes to come.
In September, whatever boost Rhode Island was seeing in employment cooled and jobs evaporated; meanwhile, Rhode Islanders’ income fell in the second quarter, even as taxes increased.
As usual this time of year, the story of Rhode Island’s employment picture depends greatly on whether one expects a large downward revision. For the moment, the employment picture looks brighter than it’s been, although not by much.