School Classifications

In 2012, a new statewide school accountability system was created. This new system is designed to recognize outstanding performance and to provide support to low-achieving schools.

“The new accountability system will enable us to give our schools the support they need to overcome challenges and to improve student achievement” - Governor Lincoln D. Chafee

2014 School Classifications

The 2014 school classifications have been released. Please see the following 2014 Classification Summary [PDF, 536KB].

For more detailed information please see the School & District Report Cards.

More About the Classifications

Commended Schools

The highest performing schools that represent the strongest patterns of performance across metrics, test at least 95% of their students, and serve all students well


  • A school cannot be commended if it is still regarded by the state as a school “In Need of Improvement”
  • An additional qualification applies to high schools.  A high school cannot be commended if it is within a school district with an “approval withheld” status regarding the acceptability of its High School Diploma System.

Defined by the following criteria:

  • Total points ≥ 77 and either:
  • Percent proficient points ≥ 24 or
  • Subgroup gap points ≥ 24

Leading Schools

Strong achievement in reading and mathematics, small or no gaps in student performance, and/or are improving student achievement, and increasing graduation rates

Defined by the following criterion:
  • Total points ≥ 70 but < 77

Warning Schools

A combination of low achievement in reading and math, unacceptable achievement gaps, and/or little or no progress in improving achievement or graduation rates


  • Warning Schools will implement a plan for improvement, but on a limited scale and without intensive RIDE oversight.

Defined by any of the following criteria:

  1. Total points < 50
  2. School wide participation rate < 95%
  3. Percent proficient points ≤ 10
  4. Subgroup gap points < 15
  5. Student growth points ≤ 7.5
  6. Sum of graduation rate and high school scaled score points ≤ 10
  7. Failure to attain any AMO for two consecutive years
  8. Failing graduation rate over time

Focus Schools

Substandard achievement in reading and math, unacceptable achievement gaps, and little or no academic progress in improving student achievement or increasing graduation rates


  • The school, the district, and RIDE begin a two- to three-year intervention process similar to the process for Priority Schools though involving only seven strategies that respond to the diagnosis findings.
Defined by any of the following criteria:
  1. Subgroup gaps points < 12 
  2. Percent proficient points < 10
  3. School wide participation rate < 95% for two consecutive years

Priority Schools

The lowest achievement in reading and mathematics, intolerable gaps in student performance and demonstrate little or no progress in improving student outcomes


Defined by any of the following criteria:
  1. Among the 8 schools with the lowest total points (i.e. < 37.8)
  2. A current Tier I PLA school that is receiving SIG funds
  3. School wide participation rate < 95% for three or more consecutive years


Rhode Island’s Request for ESEA Flexibility

The new state accountability system comes out of a request for “flexibility” regarding some of the provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA - also known as No Child Left Behind or NCLB).

Rhode Island's ESEA Flexibility Request [PDF, 2.2MB] was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in May, 2012.

UPDATE (April, 2014):

The RI Department of Education is in the process of applying for a renewal of the ESEA Flexibility Request, which the U.S. Department of Education initially approved in May 2012. This approved request allowed us to implement our current system of school accountability. Under our previous system, we classified schools based almost entirely on the percentage of students who attained proficiency on state assessments. The current system includes many additional measures, including progress toward goals, growth over time, percent of students attaining proficiency with distinction, closing achievement gaps, and graduation rates. Our current system also provides schools identified for intervention with the autonomy to select interventions that respond to their context and their needs. 

To earn approval for our renewal request, we need to make some revisions to our classification system, largely because of the transition from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. This transition requires us to rethink how we can measure progress toward goals and annual growth as factors within our accountability system. 

As part of this process, we are sharing a summary of the proposal and soliciting feedback. Video is also available of the informational webinar.  The full submitted proposal is available below: