The Mt. Hope Class of 2024 had plenty of reasons to celebrate during the announcement of their recent scores from their SAT exams taken last year, but there's also room for improvement.
For the second year in a row, students at Mt. Hope High School have set a new district record for proficiency on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the SAT, with 77% of all students meeting or exceeding state expectations on the exam.
That figure eclipses last year’s scores, where 71.6% of students graded proficient. In both of the last two years, students have surpassed the pre-Covid scores of 67.5% proficiency from the 2018-19 school year.
And while those scores — good for the fourth overall district in the state behind only Barrington (84%); East Greenwich (80%); and North Kingstown (78%) — were enough to send the Mt. Hope auditorium into a frenzy of applause during a recognition ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 2, it was another piece of data that prompted English Department chair Patrick Johnson to proclaim a touching remark about the students gathered.
For the second year in a row, Mt. Hope led all schools in the state in overall growth on the ELA SAT, with an overall growth percentile of 67. The class that just graduated in 2023 also led the state last year with a growth score of 68 when they took the test as juniors.
“We calculate the growth of every single student, so it was a team effort. It reflects what you have done as a class,” Jackson told the students on Thursday between bursts of cheering. “Your historic achievement is certainly the highlight of my career.”
Jackson informed the class they were one of only five schools in the state to achieve a 5-star achievement rating for ELA proficiency, meaning 75% or higher proficiency. South Kingstown (75.3%), along with the districts listed above, were the only other schools to do so.
Superintendent Ana Riley said the data on growth shows more about the class than just proficiency numbers alone.
“I think you should scream this from the rooftops. You should all be really proud of these scores. It means you not only outscored, you outgrew everyone,” she said. “To me, that is more important than the scores. That means you put in more effort than anyone else. You tried harder and worked harder and you earned it.”
As a celebration of their achievement, students were treated to a barbecue outside of the school.
Math improving, but still lags
As seen in all but a couple of districts in Rhode Island, Mt. Hope’s success on the mathematics portion of the SAT was not as impressive, with just 35.7% of students meeting or exceeding expectations.
There is a silver lining, though, in that scores are back in the range of pre-Covid levels.
In the last year of testing before Covid hit, around 40% of students at Mt. Hope were proficient in math. That fell off a cliff, to 23.1% in 2020-21, and recovered only slightly to 28% last year.
The jump to 35.7% proficiency for the Class of 2024 represents an 8% improvement over last year’s numbers.
RICAS scores show intriguing contrast
For the RICAS assessment, which is taken by students in graded 3-8, there were some interesting data points for the ELA and mathematics portions of the test.
Only 48% of students in those grade levels (combined) were proficient in ELA, falling well short of the marks being set by their older peers on the SAT and not quite reaching the pre-Covid marks of 52% from 2018-19.
However, RICAS scores for math revealed that over 46% of students were meeting or exceeding expectations, which easily surpassed pre-Covid levels and far surpasses their elders’ proficiency taking the SATs.