PROVIDENCE – The long-awaited RICAS scores, the release of which has become a major campaign issue, were released Thursday night and showed surprising gains in math and a slight decline in English.
However, student performance has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, a national trend reported in the recent National Assessment for Educational Progress, a high-stakes assessment that shows two decades of gains have been wiped out by the pandemic.
Fear of Rhode Island’s Joint Assessment System’s release of witnesses has become a major issue in the increasingly contentious presidential race, with Republican challenger Ashley Kalus accusing Gov. Dan McKee of intentionally detaining witnesses until after Tuesday’s election.
McKee denied asking the Department of Education to hold back on the results until after the election, but the issue escalated after WPRI reported that the vendor had already given the data to the department.
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The statewide scores were released on the same day that McKee was increasingly frustrated by questions raised by Boston Globe reporter Ed Fitzpatrick on a podcast with the president.
The Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System was originally scheduled to be released on November 10.
Here’s what happened to RICAS math scores
According to the department, math scores saw an increase of nearly 7%, a surprising feat given the historically low state in this subject. The department said all grades showed an increase in math proficiency.
But scores are still low, with only 26.9% of all students achieving proficiency, and grades are still lower than their pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Last year, only 20% progress – almost 10 percentage points lower than in 2019.
The largest increases were seen in grades 3, 4 and 6, ranging from about 5.6% in grade 5 to nearly 10% in grade 3.
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Look what happened to RICAS English/Language scores?
English results across the state dropped about 2%, from 33.2% to 31.1% in 2021. Elementary grades experienced the biggest losses, ranging from 4% in grades 3 and 6 to 6.4% in grade 4.
The department said the pandemic “is particularly disruptive to reading and comprehension transitions to the most remote learning and teaching system in the critical years for learning and development.”
More from the top part of the department is:
- One third of students are proficient in English in grades 3 through 8.
- English proficiency remains lower than in 2019, when 38% of students reached the bar.
- More students in both parts participated in the test, reaching 98%, according to the department.
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“The 2022 RICAS results show that while much work remains to get our students up to speed, Rhode Island is well on its way to recovery,” said State Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green. “We are encouraged that some areas have returned to pre-pandemic levels or exceeded them. And that our statewide focus on math instruction has led to a significant leap in math across the state.
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What are RICAS? And who takes them?
RICAS is given to students in grades 3 through 8 in March, the most important assessment of how students are doing at the individual, school, and state level. They measure how students perform over time. And they show how student groups work, including special needs students of color and English language learners.
The National Center for Improving Education Assessment said last spring that it would take Rhode Island students three to five years of accelerated learning to recover from the pandemic, the department said.