A couple of weeks ago, the Ocean State Current highlighted the relatively poor results of Rhode Island Hispanic students on the standardized National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test. Now, local advocates, including the Latino Policy Institute have contacted the state commissioner of education about that very issue:
A letter written by the executive director of the Latino Policy Institute and signed by a dozen education leaders says Rhode Island is failing its Latino students and urges the state education commissioner to make additional investments in English language learners.
The letter, which was sent to Commissioner Ken Wagner Monday morning, says that Rhode Island’s English language learners rank among the lowest in the United States for their performance on a nationally recognized test, the National Assessment for Education Progress.
This additional chart generated using the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s interactive NAEP comparison tool gives a sense of the magnitude of the disparity:
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When both math and reading scores are combined, compared with the average state (left image), Rhode Island’s Hispanics are certainly not achieving what our education system ought to ensure. Of particular concern, students in 8th grade are losing ground against the national average. If we infer that older students have had more experience within the public school system, that news is particularly discouraging — suggestive of the possibility that our education system is just doing something wrong.
Unfortunately, the advocates appear to limit their proposed solution to the usual go-to call for more money. The reality is that Rhode Island schools are not doing especially well with any demographic group, suggesting that other reforms are needed, probably without additional cost. The big gains for Hispanic Rhode Islanders in 8th grade between 2007 and 2011 give a sense of the potential of real reform.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?