New year brings new retirements, curriculum updates to improve scores

New year brings new retirements, curriculum updates to improve scores

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The New Year brought a string of retirement announcements to the North Providence School Department.

Three school district employees announced their intention to retire, including longtime Ricci Middle School Assistant Principal Susan Bennett.

Bennett submitted her retirement request in December, but plans to stay on until Dec. 31 of this year.

She came to Ricci in 2016 after serving as a business teacher at North Providence High School and interim principal at Whelan Elementary School after she was hired in the district in 1988.

Donna DeCurtis, a 5th-grade teacher at Greystone Elementary School for nearl 40 years, also submitted a request to retire, effective at the end of the school year.

In addition, the retirement of McGuire Elementary School 1st-grade teacher Camellia Martins was accepted.

Supt. Joseph Goho called all three retirements “tremendous losses” to the North Providence school system, and wished the educators luck in their retirement.

Officials examine curriculum

A continued priority for North Providence school officials this year will be implementing changes to the district’s curriculum to improve student performance in statewide standardized testing.

Assistant Supt. Louise Seitsinger has been working on a Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) test action plan in order to reduce achievement gaps and improve outcomes.

Rhode Island students first took the RICAS in 2018.

In English that year, only 29.5 percent of North Providence students met and exceeded expectations for their grade level, compared to 20 percent in math. This past year, 42.09 students met and exceeded expectations in English, and 27.5 percent did so in math.

In an effort to continue to improve scores and reduce achievement gaps, the district has been working with retired Supt. Paul Ash of Lexington, Mass. Seitsinger said Ash has given North Providence “great feedback on really diving into specific subgroups and student engagement.”

Officials plan to follow up with Ash later this month to present their action plan, which will be drafted with help from the district’s special education director and English language learners coordinator.

Goho said the work with Ash has been valuable, noting that Ash found success in Massachusetts with closing achievement gaps for various subgroups.

Rhode Island’s exam is modeled after the Massachusetts test.

Goho said Ash has encouraged North Providence officials to think about how to measure the success of their action plan, “and really hold various aspects of the school community accountable for tangible action.”

Ongoing work in the curriculum office also includes professional development in math through “math book talks” focusing on evidence-based strategies for teaching math to struggling learners, meeting with ELA content professionals at the middle school level, working with the Rhode Island Writing Project, and piloting two new science programs.

“That conference room in 2240 Mineral Spring has been very busy with curriculum committees in English, math and science,” Goho said. “We’re doing a lot of work to revise our scope and sequence and to ensure that material is covered so our students do succeed on state assessments.”