Editorial: Welcome to Bristol – Home of High-Performing School

Posted 9/15/17

Not long ago, it would have been difficult to believe Bristol was home to one of the highest-performing schools in Rhode Island. Though these were never considered “bad” schools, they …

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Editorial: Welcome to Bristol – Home of High-Performing School

Posted

Not long ago, it would have been difficult to believe Bristol was home to one of the highest-performing schools in Rhode Island. Though these were never considered “bad” schools, they were never in the same echelon as schools in communities like Barrington, East Greenwich, Lincoln or Portsmouth.

Now they are. And they aren’t just in that echelon; they’re leading it.

There are many ways to measure a school’s success, or failure, and standardized tests are not the only way. Yet for general education schools like these, the state-administered PARCC test scores are a fair barometer. Every student in Rhode Island takes the same set of tests, assessing the same set of expectations, and the schools are measured based on how many of their students meet or exceed those expectations.

Because they account for every student in the school, from the highest-performing superstar to the most needy special education student, they fairly assess a school’s overall performance — how well they are preparing all students to meet challenges at the next level.

Judging by the results this year, the Bristol elementary schools are doing an incredible job.

Rockwell is one of the two or three best in the state. The little school at the north end of town is neck-and-neck with the esteemed Nayatt School in Barrington for second-best public elementary school in Rhode Island.

Guiteras School showed more improvement than nearly any other school in the state, vaulting it into the top echelon of public schools.

And Colt Andrews is rising steadily each year, with more than half their students meeting expectations. Though that seems disappointing compared to its high-performing peers, Colt Andrews is now in the top third of all schools statewide, keeping up with schools in communities like North and South Kingstown, East Greenwich and Lincoln.

Beyond the numbers, however, there’s an even better story to tell. All of these schools are bursting with optimism, energy and hope. Their principals talk about exciting new programs, changing cultures and astounding student achievements.

A generation ago, if asked about disappointing test scores, school leaders would cite the high volume of free and reduced-lunch students, blaming poor performance on poor home environments.

It’s refreshing these days to hear excitement and optimism, and believe that things can get better. Rockwell Principal Tara McAuliffe says her school’s 75 percent performance is outstanding. Now she wants 90 percent.

Congratulations to all those working inside Bristol’s three elementary schools. They have much to be proud of.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.