Superintendent Comments on Test Score Suspicions
Convery says the school department is not worried about AJC claims.
Days after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) study claimed that discrepancies had been found in the standardized math test scores of Coventry students, along with Providence, East Providence (who has since been removed from the list) and Woonsocket, school Superintendent Michael Convery said he believes that the view of the situation has been skewed in a negative way.
The testing years in question are 2008-2011, the former being the first reporting year that Oak Haven Elementary School was closed, causing students to be distributed amongst other area schools and the latter being the year that Coventry began implementing differentiated learning techniques into the curriculum.
"Just one of our schools when we presented the NECAP results had over a 40-point swing towards the positive in math," said Convery. "It could be any one of the schools in any one of those years. We don't have specifics about what is wrong."
Convery explained that the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is "very vigilant" about the quality of the tests and testing responsibility. This fall a monitoring process was used, requiring schools to report the dates and times that tests were being taken, not just dates as in the past so that RIDE representatives could visit during testing.
"I'm positive that we will be receiving a visit this spring for the science tests since we were not visited yet," he said.
"I'm not nervous or worried about anything they (AJC) think that they have," Convery went on to say. "I feel absolutely secure that our testing procedures are high quality, administered properly and that the scores are real. We have been questioned about specific tests in the past for things like there being too many erase marks on answers - and every one of these has been explained."
Assistant Superintendent James Erinakes expressed his disappointment at the negative connotations that have come along with the news of abnormal test scores.
"It is unfortunate that when there is potential for a school department to make significant improvements due to hard work on the part of everyone, the first thing people think is 'someone must have done something wrong'," Erinakes said. "Isn't it possible that we may have done something right?"
While awaiting further information about the investigation, School Committee Chairperson Katherine Patenaude agreed with her colleagues that the speculations are not pointing in any one direction.
"It is just a flag," she said. "We could have improved but we could have gone down too much as well. It is just a deviation from what they consider to be the norm."
Check back with Coventry Patch for more updates on the topic as they become available.