New controversy at Rhode Island school
Just when it looked like things were quieting down at troubled Central Falls High School in Rhode Island, the place that became famous when all of the teachers were fired and then rehired, there’s a new controversy.
One of the two newly named co-principals was approved by the Central Falls Board of Trustees this week even though his resumé said that math scores at his former school were much higher than they really were, according to the Providence Journal.
Let’s review: In March, all of the teachers and other educators at the only high school in Central Falls, Rhode Island’s smallest and poorest city, were fired so that the school could be restructured with a new staff.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Superintendent Frances Gallo for firing all of the educators in the building, and President Obama said it showed “a sense of accountability.”
Last month, Gallo and the teachers union reached an agreement that brought back all of the teachers, but not the top administrators,
One of the two new co-principals is Sonn Sam, who has been principal of the alternative Metropolitan Career and Technical Center, or MET, in Providence. He submitted a resumé stating that under his leadership over the past four years, math scores had improved by 79 percent, the Journal reported.
That was, to be kind, a big exaggeration.
According to the Providence Journal, the combined test scores for the three MET campuses are roughly the same as Central Falls, where the educators were originally fired because of low student achievement. The combined MET scores showed 55 percent of students proficient in reading in 2009 — the same as Central Falls — and only 4 percent proficient in math, even lower than Central Falls’ 7 percent proficiency. Over the past three years, reading scores went up 14 points but math scores did not budge.
When the discrepancy was first reported by the local National Public Radio affiliate, WRNI, Sonn Sam said the mistake occurred when a MET school employee gave him incorrect information, though that employee has since left the school. He has already given a new resumé to Central Falls Schools Superintendent Frances Gallo.
“I totally understand on my part that it should have been accurate,” Sam was quoted as saying by the Providence Journal.
Gallo said she had “complete confidence” in Sam and said he was hired because of his strong interviews, not because of statistics on his resumé.
Let’s look at what’s wrong with that statement.
Inaccurate resumés are a problem unto themselves, but how the bad information got on Sonn Sam’s is curious.
How is it that the principal of a school was told that math scores had gone up 79 percent, and he didn’t know that was incorrect? Don’t principals keep track of test scores a little bit better than that?
“It’s unbelievable that there is no accountability for administrators but teachers take the brunt” of all the criticism at low-performing schools, said Central Fall counselor George McLaughlin.
The issue of test scores at MET was already discussed in the community: The Journal wrote back in March that the founder of MET was delighted that Obama had praised the institution. But that story also said this: “The school also has its critics, based in part on what they view as its insufficient progress in annual state testing.”
For Gallo to suggest that the statistics on Sonn Sam’s vita don’t really matter is perplexing. Statistics are what got the Central Falls teachers fired to begin with.
Statistics sure mattered to Gallo then.
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| June 12, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: Teachers | Tags: central falls high school, central falls school, obama and central falls, rhode island school, teachers fired, teachers rehired at rhode island school
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