Preparing all students for success in college, careers, and life
Rhode Island has implemented a statewide diploma system to ensure access for all middle and high school students to rigorous, high quality, personalized learning opportunities and pathways.
The Diploma System:
The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education 2016 Secondary Regulations set the framework for implementing the RI Diploma System. These regulations require all school districts to develop and implement a comprehensive secondary diploma system for middle and high schools that includes: student and teacher supports, local aligned policies, multiple learning opportunities for all students, and multiple measures for determining graduation readiness.
These regulations reflect key design elements and principles that have been identified since the 2003 secondary school regulations including: proficiency-based graduation requirements; comprehensive supports to students including literacy, numeracy, and personalization; common planning time and professional development support for teachers.
Two key concepts permeate the Regulations: proficiency and personalization. These concepts reflect the beliefs that:
(1) All students must attain an acceptable level of academic achievement in each of the six core academic areas, integrated with applied learning skills in order to be successful in college and careers; and
(2) Effective instructional delivery demands an understanding of the needs of each individual student and supports that will help students attain at least the minimum level of proficiency.
Rhode Island’s Board of Education adopted the state’s most innovative and collaborative strategic plan yet, 2020 Vision for Education: RI's Strategic Plan for PK-12 & Adult Education, 2015-2020. In the spirit of adopting the values and tenets of this strategic plan, RIDE has aligned our Secondary School Regulations and high school graduation requirements to be even more supportive of RI’s vision for successful graduates of our schools.
The revision process for the RI Secondary School Regulations was launched in December 2015. During the initial phase of the revision process, which took place between December 2015 and May 2016, RIDE conducted an iterative development process that provided multiple opportunities for input and engagement from key stakeholder groups and community members. During this process, RIDE established a series of feedback loops, whereby data generated from community members were analyzed and incorporated into subsequent revisions, and these new concepts were then shared for further community review. A further revised draft of Secondary School Regulations underwent a formal process for recording public comment which was open from July 2016 through September 15, 2016. Overall, twenty six meetings were held to discuss the regulations and gather feedback, hundreds of Rhode Islanders completed feedback surveys and participated in public comment, and the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education was involved at each successive stage of analysis and revision. The final draft of the revised Secondary School Regulations was presented to and accepted by the Council in October 2016.
Graduation requirements are set at a level to provide students the skills and knowledge to successfully enter and complete a rigorous post-secondary academic or technical program, join the military, and/or obtain a job that leads to a rewarding and viable career. The Rhode Island Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, through the Secondary School Regulations set the minimum requirements for earning a RI high school diploma, including:
Districts may include additional expectations or requirements such as additional coursework requirements or community service learning.
Districts are required to communicate specific graduation expectations to families and students by October 1 of the ninth grade, or upon entrance or transfer to the school district.
*These minimum requirements are in effect through the graduating class of 2020.
As part of the revised Diploma System outlined in the Secondary School Regulations, the Council Designations serve as enhancements to the diploma. Each Council Designation externally validates achievements of high school students to allow for public recognition of specific skills and to incentivize students to meet additional high standards, beyond those needed to earn a high school diploma, through flexible and personalized high school learning experiences.
The Middle and High School Learning Environments and the Rhode Island Diploma System Regulations define Council Designation as the following:
“Commencing with the graduating class of 2021, LEAs shall include a designation notation on permanent high school transcripts and on the diplomas of all students who meet Council-defined criteria. The Council shall (1) determine designations available statewide, and (2) determine the level of achievement necessary for a Council Designation. Designations approved by the Council shall include, but not be limited to documentation of student achievement of a statewide literacy and numeracy standard and documentation of student completion of a course of study consistent with a personal learning goal. LEAs shall provide students with multiple opportunities and appropriate supports to meet designation requirements. LEAs are authorized to award additional locally-developed designations.”
The purpose of the Commissioner’s Seal is to certify that a student is proficient in high school standards-aligned English Language Arts and Mathematics content, as confirmed by external evidence. A student must meet the established performance standard (or benchmark) on both English Language Arts and Mathematics approved assessments. The RIDE-approved established performance standard reflects student proficiency at high school standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Starting with the Class of 2021, if a student achieves the benchmark on both an English Language Arts and a Mathematics assessment, he or she will receive a Commissioners Seal. The student’s district awards the Commissioner’s Seal.
A process to approve assessments for the Commissioner’s Seal has been developed to ensure that the assessments used provide valid and reliable evidence of a student’s proficiency of high school English language arts and Mathematics standards. The process includes a review of content alignment, performance standard, technical quality, and test security as well as validation that it is an external summative assessment. A committee of RIDE staff and Rhode Island educators reviews assessments for Commissioner’s Seal Council Designation.
The current list of approved Commissioner’s Seal assessments and performance standards are:
Assessment Content Area
PARCC English Language Arts and Literacy 9
English Language Arts
Level 4 and above; 750
PARCC Algebra 1
PSAT Reading and Writing
SAT Reading and Writing
Additional assessments are under review and will be posted as approved.
See below for the published reports. To view annual enrollment, dropout and graduation data for schools, districts and the state, please click here.
Performance assessments (or Diploma Assessments) are one of the requirements for demonstrating readiness for graduation. Students are required to complete two Diploma Assessments chosen by the district or school (student portfolios, exhibitions, senior projects and/ or comprehensive course assessments).
Scaling Up PBG is a network of Rhode Island secondary schools that participate in a powerful professional development experience, working collaboratively to develop and implement quality common performance assessments as part of the state’s Proficiency-based Graduation Requirements policy (PBGR). Scaling Up PBG is a partnership between RIDE and the Center for Collaborative Education’s Quality Performance Assessment program.
Over the course of 18 months (June 2015-December 2016), Scaling Up PBG will provide professional development opportunities for:
Scaling Up PBG enables participating schools and educators to move their PBG work forward and deepen professional learning through collaboration and sharing of best practices. A collection of validated performance assessments will be made available to educators across Rhode Island at the completion of the Scaling Up PBG initiative.
Students must be provided with appropriate supports necessary for him or her to successfully meet the graduation requirements. Supports may be district or school-wide, such as Response to Intervention (RtI), or individualized, such as the Individual Learning Plan or Progress Plan.
School counselors play a key role in supporting students in accessing pathways and learning opportunities that help students to meet their personal, social, academic and career goals.
Comprehensive School Counseling
Comprehensive School Counseling
The Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is a student directed planning and monitoring tool that customizes learning opportunities throughout the secondary school experience, broadens their perspectives, and supports attainment of goals. The ILP documents students’ interests, needs, supports, course selections (including access to college-level programming), transition placements, and other learning experiences both in- and out-of-school. This information produces a thoughtful program of study leading to proficiency for graduation and post-secondary experiences. As a working document, the ILP is at the center of a personalized education program. The ILP is more than a repository of information about a student; it is a dynamic student-driven tool that maps academic plans; reflects each student’s unique set of interests, needs, learning goals, and graduation requirements; and documents the supports needed to reach those learning goals.
A Personal Literacy Plan (PLP) is a plan of action used to accelerate a student’s learning in order to move toward grade level reading proficiency. Students who have substantial reading difficulties (reading more than two years below grade level) should receive intensive literacy instruction from a reading specialist or other qualified educator. Students’ targeted interventions or intensive literacy instruction must be documented and include the development, implementation, and progress monitoring of a PLP, which can be within the ILP.
RI law, effective on July 1, 2011, changed the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 years of age. The RI Compulsory Attendance Law, RIGL 16-19-1, responds to the number of students who, despite district/school efforts to engage them and provide them with a variety of learning opportunities and supports, are at great risk of dropping out of school. This statute allows a student, age 16 or older, who has an alternative learning plan to be waived from attending school. One of the requirements for making this available to students is that the school must communicate with the student and parent/family to develop an alternative plan that includes learning and/or training opportunities that provides the student an opportunity earn a high school diploma, its equivalent, or another credential.
Districts may choose to award a Seal of Biliteracy to graduating seniors who are able to demonstrate proficiency in English and one or more other world languages. The language may be a student’s native language or a language learned in school or another setting. The Seal highlights individuals with multilingual and multicultural competence to potential employers and provides universities with a method of identifying and giving credit to applicants with high levels of proficiency. Seals are affixed to diplomas and are documented on student transcripts.
Sello de Alfabetización Bilingüe en Español [PDF, 58]
In partnership with other adult service agencies, RIDE developed stackable, portable and recognized certificates that all students may earn. The certificate options below were initially developed for students who qualify for the alternate assessment. The Alternate Assessment is the state assessment for a small number of students who cannot participate in large-scale assessments even with accommodations. However, many Rhode Island high schools are using the developed credentials to supplement high school diplomas.
Office of College and Career Readiness
Documents on this site require the use of the following programs:
DOC - Microsoft Word
PDF - Acrobat Reader
PPT - Microsoft PowerPoint
XLS - Microsoft Excel
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