RICAS scores released just days before election; show decrease in English, uptick in math

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — In a twist of events, the state has released the RICAS scores Friday amid calls for them to be released before Election Day.

The Rhode Island Department of Education released the data that showed students improved in math compared to 2021 though they had a slight decrease in English. However, the numbers are lower than pre-pandemic levels on the RICAS tests.

“The 2022 RICAS results show that while a lot of work remains ahead to get our students back up to speed, Rhode Island is on its way to recovery,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “We’re encouraged that some districts have returned to their pre-pandemic levels or exceeded them, and that our statewide focus on math instruction and support led to a significant jump in math performance across the state.”

According to the data, statewide scores showed that 26.9% students are proficient in math, a nearly 7% increase from 2021. In English, the data shows 31.1% of students are proficient, a 2.1% decrease from the previous year.

Both scores are below the 2019 levels (38.5% English; 29.8% math) prior to the pandemic. Tests were not administered in 2020.

A data point of interest was the scores for urban communities as some argue it will gauge the state’s success with their takeover of Providence Public Schools.

For English, 14.6% of students are deemed proficient, compared to 20% in 2019. In math, 11.8% are proficient, which is up almost five points from last year, but down from 14.8% in 2020.

When comparing scores to Massachusetts, Rhode Island students are about 10 points behind their counterparts in the Commonwealth (41%-31.1%) and more than 12 points in math (39% to 26.9%).

However, Rhode Island students only dropped 2.1% statewide in English compared to 5% in Massachusetts and increased 6.8% in math compared to 6% in the Bay State.

“Rhode Island schools worked diligently to fully return to in-person learning last year, but we know it was not a typical year because COVID-19 still impacted most aspects of education here and across the nation,” said Infante-Green.

“RIDE will continue to support school leaders to better serve the needs of students and meet the priorities of their communities to help all students recover,” she concluded.

The release of the scores Friday came as a bit of a surprise after Gov. Dan McKee said the numbers would not come out until after the election on Nov. 8.

McKee has been criticized for not releasing the scores prior to Nov. 8. Critics called the move “political.”

Those critics, including his gubernatorial opponent Ashley Kalus, have argued the governor’s refusal to release the scores prior to the election is because many know the scores would be low and reflect poorly on McKee.

The governor has yet to publicly addressed the results of the scores.

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