BURRILLVILLE – In a year when most schools across Rhode Island saw drops in English proficiency due to pandemic-related loses in learning, one Burrillville elementary school beat the odds.
And while the gains may have been modest, in a year so universally difficult for student learning, state officials note that the scores deserved recognition and praise.
William Callahan Elementary School recently received a certificate of special recognition from Gov. Dan McKee for the school’s increase in student proficiency on the 2021 Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System.
“Despite tremendous barriers created by the COVID-19 pandemic, your constant dedication to your students and your tireless efforts to find a way forward helped your students to learn and grow,” the citation noted.
Districts statewide saw significant drops in proficiency in both English and Math on the tests administered last year and northern Rhode Island schools were no exception, with declining scores at all grade levels from tests taken in 2019.
The RICAS assessments are administered annually to students in grades 3-8, but like most states, Rhode Island did not perform testing in 2020. Most states also didn’t administer a full assessment in 2021, but according to education officials, Rhode Island aimed to utilize the test to better gauge the effects of the pandemic on student learning
At Callahan, 92 percent of students completed the 2021 English assessment, with 26.6 percent meeting or exceeding expectations. The proficiency rating marks an improvement over pre-pandemic scores from the 2018/2019 school year, when 25.1 percent of students met or exceeded English proficiency standards at the school.
“You have my best wishes for your continued success,” noted the citation signed by McKee and delivered to Principal David Brissette.
“Throughout the entire pandemic, the teachers at WLC worked tirelessly to make sure their students were learning whether they were present in school or doing distance learning from their homes,” said Brissette. ” I would find many teachers meeting with families well after hours to help our struggling students.”
Burrillville saw a district-wide a drop of 3.8 percent proficiency in English Language Arts, faring better than the state as a whole, which saw a 5 percent decline.
By comparison, Callahan’s 1 percent gain was a notable achievement.
Brissette celebrated the achievement with teachers and staff at Callahan on Wednesday, June 8.
“Our Callahan families made the effort to make sure their children got their work done daily and took distance learning seriously,” Brissette said. “Our school has long understood the connection between the home and school is integral for student success. When we work together we can achieve so much.”