RIDE Releases 2014 School Classifications, 30 Schools Honored as Commended

Schools in 20 school districts plus 3 charter public schools received the highest classification, Commended, in the 2014 School Classifications that the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) released today (June 9, 2014).

RIDE used the Rhode Island Accountability System, which is designed to recognize outstanding performance and to provide support to low-achieving schools, to determine the 2014 School Classifications. 

The accountability system enables RIDE to: 
  • focus on achievement gaps;
  • diagnose school performance by identifying specific shortcomings and achievements at each school;
  • provide schools with the ability to select interventions that respond to their context and their needs; and
  • provide schools with the support needed to implement the intervention so as to improve student achievement and to close achievement gaps.
“I am glad that we have been able to honor schools from the majority of our school districts as 2014 Commended Schools, and I am particularly pleased that 18 high schools are among our commended schools this year,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Under our new Diploma System, these high schools have maintained high levels of proficiency while closing achievement gaps and supporting a high graduation rate. We will continue working to advance all schools toward greatness, with a particular concentration on helping our Priority and Focus Schools move forward with their approved plans for school transformation.” 

As in previous years, RIDE based the 2014 School Classifications on:
  • Proficiency: How many students have attained proficiency or better?
  • Distinction: How many students have attained distinction?
  • Participation: How many students take the state assessments? 
  • Gap-closing: Is the school serving all students, including those with disabilities and English Learners? 
  • Progress: Is the school approaching its 2017 targets?
  • Growth (K-8): Are all students making progress?
  • Improvement (high schools): Is the school improving annually?
  • Graduation (high schools): Is the school reaching its graduation-rate goals?  
Using these measures, RIDE placed each school into one of six classifications: Commended, Leading, Typical, Warning, Focus, or Priority. 

Of the 277 classified schools, RIDE identified 30 schools (11 percent) as Commended. Six schools have been classified as Commended Schools for three consecutive years: 

Blackstone Academy Charter School
Charlestown Elementary School (Chariho)
Classical High School (Providence)
Fort Barton School (Tiverton)
Rockwell School (Bristol Warren)
Scituate High School

The other schools classified as Commended Schools in 2014 are:

Anna M. McCabe School (Smithfield)
Archie R. Cole Middle School (East Greenwich)
Barrington High School
BEACON Charter High School the Arts
Chariho High School 
East Greenwich High School
Exeter-West Greenwich Senior High School
Francis J. Varieur Elementary School (Pawtucket)
Glen Hills School (Cranston)
Hope Elementary School (Scituate)
Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Pawtucket)
The Learning Community charter public school
Matunuck Elementary School (South Kingstown)
Middletown High School
Mt. Hope High School (Bristol Warren)
Narragansett High School 
North Providence High School
North Smithfield High School
Ponaganset High School (Foster-Glocester)
Portsmouth High School
Smithfield Senior High School
Stone Hill School (Cranston)
Westerly High School
Wickford Middle School 

As was the case last year, RIDE also classified 32 schools (12 percent) in the lowest classifications: 21 Priority Schools and 11 Focus Schools, adding only one new school: the Orlo Avenue School, in East Providence. The Priority and Focus schools are in Central Falls, East Providence, Pawtucket, and Providence, plus the Rhode Island School for the Deaf and the Segue Institute for Learning charter public school. 

Priority and Focus Schools are designated for state intervention, which entails a diagnostic screening process to determine the strengths each school has and the challenges each school faces. Subject to Commissioner Gist’s approval, superintendents select an intervention model for each Priority and Focus school and then develop school-turnaround plans, which include numerous reform strategies in the areas of leadership, support, infrastructure, and content. The plans are designed to address the specific needs of each identified school. 

Although some of the Priority and Focus schools have made improvements, RIDE is committed to holding schools in Priority and Focus status to give these schools sufficient time to develop and implement their plans for transformation. 

“School turnaround is a major undertaking that requires several years of progress before we can be confident that the improvements are durable,” Commissioner Gist said. “As a result, we continue to work closely with all Priority and Focus schools for at least two years to ensure that they are on the road toward school improvement.”

The 55 Warning Schools that RIDE identified today must also develop and implement plans for improvement, but on a lesser scale and without intensive RIDE oversight.