RICAS bits and bytes (Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System)Dear WMS Families,
The news is in regarding RICAS 2018, and Rhode Island has a lot of work to do. At WMS, each grade level achieved above the state average in ELA and Math -- and that puts us in a rock-solid position for future growth. WMS is ranked in the top 25% (aggregated data) of all public schools in the state. This is a good start -- in spite of the fact that RICAS is the third summative assessment in Rhode Island in just four years (NECAP 2014; PARCC 2015, 2016, 2017; RICAS 2018). This constant change is confusing for educators and students and is surely counter-productive. Massachusetts has taught and tested to the same summative assessment for 20 years (MCAS), and this consistency has paid off. Below are some questions and answers (from the Rhode Island Department of Education) to guide your review of your student’s Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (or RICAS) score report.
Why does this score look different from years past?
The test your child took in the 2017-2018 school year – the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) – is different from the test used in prior years. Last year was the first year of the RICAS, which will now give our state a direct comparison with student performance in Massachusetts. Rhode Island learning standards remained the same, but the expectations are higher on the RICAS, so you may see changes from how your child has performed in the past.
Why did Rhode Island change tests?
Massachusetts is considered not only a national leader, but also a global leader in education, and we want to position Rhode Island to have the same kind of long-term, consistent strategy around public education. To do that well, we need to be able to directly compare student performance. Testing time for RICAS is also a little shorter than our previous test, which is good news for students and teachers.
What is a growth score?
When you transition to a different test, and especially a more challenging test, a direct year-over-year comparison becomes impossible. The growth score can help you make sense of how your child performed. Basically, it shows how your child performed on RICAS compared to his or her peers who scored similarly on the PARCC in previous years. A Student Growth Percentile (SGP) describes your child’s learning over time compared with his or her peers, that is, other students who had similar scores on previous state tests. An SGP is a number between 1 (least growth) and 99 (most growth). If, for example, your child has an SGP of 80, we can say your child showed more growth than 80 percent of his or her academic peers.
What will my child’s school do with this information?
Test scores are only one measure of student performance, but teachers can learn more about your child’s academic needs with these results. RICAS provides objective feedback on your child’s progress through elementary and secondary school grades. When students are
What can I do with this information?
Reach out and talk to your child’s teachers about the results. Set up a meeting, so you can discuss how you and your child’s school team can support his or her academic goals. At home, talk to your child about his or her day at school to reinforce the material being learned. Make school attendance a priority every day, establish daily reading routines in your home, and stay connected to your child’s school. Children whose families stress the value of education are more likely to find it important, as well.
Warmest regards,Water test results
Dear WMS Community,
Below, please find the notice that we are required, by law, to provide the school community regarding water-test results. For further information, feel free to contact me and/or contact the Rhode Island Department of Health at 401-592-0363. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit the EPA's web site at www.epa.gov/lead, or call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your health provider.Winter bits and bytesDear Little Compton Families,
The winter season is upon us. Snowy conditions are a welcome treat for those who love winter sports, but they can wreak havoc when it comes to work and school routines. I am aware that my decision to open or close our school in bad weather affects the entire school community, and I also understand that our students are better served -- both academically and socially -- by being in school. However, as always, the top priority is the safety of our students and staff.
The decision to cancel school or enact a delayed start will happen by 5:30am and will be based on the following information: weather factors (road conditions, amount of snow and ice accumulated, ongoing precipitation); building conditions (such as whether we have electricity and heat); campus conditions (bus drop-off area, sidewalks); weather predictions (it is preferable to avoid making a decision based on weather predictions --which are not always accurate, but sometimes this is unavoidable).
Another point of consideration is the actions of neighboring school districts. Throughout the evening, I communicate regularly with the other East Bay superintendents, in particular Portsmouth, as that is where our Little Compton high school students matriculate. I am also in constant contact with our Head Custodian, who works closely with the Little Compton Public Works Department and the Little Compton Police and Fire Departments.
When it comes to our children and staff, a safe commute to and from school takes priority over all other decisions. This means, bus runs may run late at times due to changing conditions or delays on specific roads. In addition, there are times when an early release of school is required due to an emerging storm that could impact the safety of students and staff. We will make sure we communicate with you throughout the process. Any delay, cancellation, or early release will be on our web page and also communicated through our emergency notification system, Blackboard Connect. These will also be broadcast on most media sites through the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association Closing Network.
Although I will do my absolute best in this process, I know that often no perfect decision exists.
I hope this explanation brings some clarity to how weather-related decisions are made.
Warmest regards during these wintry months,Autumn bits and bytes
Welcome to the 2018/19 school year, and thank you for inviting me to be a part of the educational community of Little Compton, a town that is singularly beautiful, warm, and welcoming. It is an honor to be a part of educating and nurturing Little Compton's most precious resource — our children, as they grow and develop into their best and highest selves. It is through supporting one another that growth happens, and that is why I am reaching out to you — devoted parents/guardians, remarkable faculty and staff, and the actively-curious student body of Wilbur and McMahon School to collaborate and continue the work of offering a world-class education. Please note: my door is always open, my contact information is below, and stay tuned for the dates/times/locations of the monthly gatherings that I will be hosting: "Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent." I will have tea, too, if you are so inclined!
As your new school superintendent, I am committed to building on and advancing the academic rigor, curriculum relevance, and healthy relationships that Wilbur McMahon is known for. This work requires the participation of the entire school community as we live our shared commitment to educational excellence. What does educational excellence look like? Well, it is a three-ingredient mix consisting of school Safety, student Engagement, and student Achievement. As Little Compton is a town surrounded by the sea, let’s call our mission to further advance Wilbur McMahon School our shared SEA of objectives:
Safety: Wilbur McMahon is a safe place for all who learn and work here. Staff members are highly trained to respond to issues and concerns, and the Student Support Services Team (Counselor-Social Worker, Nurse-Educator, Psychologist, Student Assistance Counselor) provides programming and resources for students and their families. However, we are living in a complex era, when acts of violence occur all too often. The Little Compton School Committee/Subcommittee on Safety (a group comprised of school administrators, staff, parents, town officials and safety personnel) has been busy this summer looking at School Violence Solutions' highly-detailed “brick and mortar” assessment of WMS which has led to the adoption of policies (Virginia Model) practices (i.e. updated dismissal procedures) and safety upgrades (i.e. restricted access to side and back lots) across the school campus and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates and thank you to all who joined us at the second public forum last night, held in the Little Compton Community Center.
Engagement: There are so many exciting learning adventures at WMS (8th-graders’ force and motion unit-related roller coaster projects, 5th-grade Ecological Oasis stewardship, DEM staff educating our Pre-Kindergartners around local plants and animals, the Biomes Marine Biology Center staff visiting our primary grades, loads of literacy-related projects, trips in the field to Plimoth Plantation, Washington D.C., and Fort Adams). I wholeheartedly support these ongoing initiatives and am introducing more. For example, CORE and FUSE RI are coming to WMS, and we are also looking at new clubs/activities and, notably, the "middle years" version of an International Baccalaureate (IB) pathway. The IB framework is designed to be integrated across the curriculum to develop active learners who are internationally minded, able to empathize with others, and who possess the intellect and skills to pursue lives of purpose and meaning. ...all good stuff!
Achievement: WMS’ student achievement data is solid, notwithstanding the transition to CCSS and numerous shifts in state assessments — from NECAP to PARCC to RICAS and NGSS. Wilbur McMahon is poised for great leaps forward, and students and teachers are being supported by WMS’ instructional leader, Sonya Whipp, who has devoted countless hours ensuring that there is a K-8 written, guaranteed and viable curriculum that engages all students in meaningful, personalized learning through the use of high-quality content and inspired instruction. Generating and maintaining a comprehensive collection of curriculum resources is the “back-end of the business” of managing schools, the part that few people see but all members of a school community benefit from. In addition, several WMS teachers and paraprofessionals have been busy over the summer being learners, themselves — with some traveling to Arizona for a Code.org training, while others engaged in workshops and coursework. In this switched-on, interconnected 21st Century world, ongoing staff development is key as we work to grow the innovators of tomorrow. The entire WMS community is on the move!
I speak for the entire Little Compton School District's faculty and staff when I say that it is an honor and a privilege to be your partner in your child's education. Never hesitate to contact me with your questions and concerns. Enjoy these waning days of summer vacation, and here's to a healthy, productive, and magical school year for all!
Laurie Dias-Mitchell, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ~William Butler Yeats