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The Characteristics Of SIG Schools

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The RI School for the Deaf, which serves students pre-k through high school, was labeled a Persistently Lowest Achieving school by the RI Dept. of ED., and subjected to the 4 draconian choices. This was done largely on the basis of scores on the state assessments, though the numbers in each cell were far too low to use statistically. (I think the RI Dept. of Ed. got a waiver from the USDOE to allow this.) When the school was told it could apply for a SIG grant, it was also told that it was competing with other districts for the grant money. (The RI School for the Deaf is considered a school district. Many of the students come from non-English speaking homes, many even from English speaking homes live in families that cannot fluently communicate with them in sign language, and many qualify for free and reduced lunch.) I retired from teaching there earlier than I had planned, in large part due to the stress and demoralization engendered by this process. Mass-administered standardized, multiple-choice tests are clearly not the valid way to assess learning in our population. The school was truly in need of improvement, but the time and resources devoted to do the bidding of the RI Dept. of Ed., fill out the paperwork, etc. would have been much better put to use by focusing on the actual needs of our diverse students, rather than the data dictates of RIDE.

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