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School Improvement

Improving outcomes for our most vulnerable students and our most underserved communities remains one of Rhode Island’s most pressing challenges. RIDE recognizes that we can only surmount this obstacle with a deep and authentic sense of shared responsibly, a boundless belief in what is possible for kids, and the indefatigable hope for which our Ocean State is known.

As a part of a system of statewide accountability and support under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), RIDE is committed to identifying Rhode Island’s lowest performing schools and student groups in order to support continuous improvement efforts and accelerate teaching and learning for all Rhode Island students. Rhode Island is beginning to identify these schools and student groups as a part of our full statewide accountability release, the results of which can be found on our new School and District Report Cards platform.

RIDE, in collaboration with a diverse coalition of community stakeholders known as the Committee of Practitioners, has articulated the broad outline and strategy for School Improvement in the federally-approved Rhode Island’s ESSA State Plan.

Practitioners’ Guide to School Improvement 2019-2020

RIDE is updating it’s Practitioners’ Guide to School Improvement and breaking it into Modules. Each module represents a critical step in the school improvement process. These modules are being supplemented with additional resources, templates, videos etc. that will help deliver the content of the module. Please find links to the modules and associated resources below:

Identification for School Improvement Under ESSA

ESSA designates three levels of identification and support: comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), targeted support and improvement (TSI) for subgroups, and additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI). In accordance with federal requirements, Rhode Island has established the following processes for identifying schools for each level of support.

Comprehensive Support and Improvement

Comprehensive Support and Improvement


For 2018, Rhode Island will identify the following groups of schools for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI):

  • The lowest performing five percent of all schools – including at least the bottom five percent of Title 1 schools – based on performance on all indicators in the accountability system.
  • All high schools in the state failing to graduate one third or more of their students within four years.
  • Any school with the lowest score for all applicable non-graduation indicators, and one or two points for graduation, if applicable.

CSI-Identified Schools, as of December 2019

District

School

Grade Span

Central Falls

Dr. Earl F. Calcutt Middle School

M

Pawtucket

Joseph Jenks Middle School

M

Pawtucket

Samuel Slater Middle School

M

Pawtucket

Charles E. Shea High School

H

Providence

Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School

H

Providence

Alfred Lima, Sr. Elementary School

E

Providence

Central High School

H

Providence

Nathan Bishop Middle School

M

Providence

Gilbert Stuart Middle School

M

Providence

Hope High School

H

Providence

Mount Pleasant High School

H

Providence

Governor Christopher DelSesto Middle School

M

Providence

William B. Cooley, Sr. High School and the Provide

H

Providence

West Broadway Middle School

M

Providence

360 High School

H

Woonsocket

Bernon Heights School

E

Woonsocket

Kevin K. Coleman Elementary School

E

Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy

Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy (Central Cam

H

Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy

Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy (Capital Cam

H

Urban Collaborative

Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program

M

R.I. Sch for the Deaf

Rhode Island School for the Deaf

S

Chariho

Chariho Alternative Learning Academy

S

 

 

Targeted Support and Improvement

Targeted Support and Improvement


ESSA designates two categories of schools to be identified for targeted support and improvement. The first category includes schools with one or more “consistently underperforming” subgroups of students, based on all indicators in the state accountability system. These schools are identified for targeted support and improvement (TSI). The second category of schools to be identified for additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI) includes schools in which any subgroup of students, if considered on its own, would be meet the criteria to be identified as a school in need of comprehensive support and improvement.

Rhode Island will identify school subgroups for targeted support and improvement (TSI) if they meet the minimum n-size of 20 and meet the criteria for a one star rating based on the accountability system as if that subgroup were a school.

Additional Targeted Support and Improvement

Additional Targeted Support and Improvement


Rhode Island will identified school subgroups for additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI) if they meet the minimum n-size of 20 and also the conditions to be identified as in need of comprehensive support and improvement if they were a school. This includes subgroups that meet any of the following conditions:

  • Performing within the lowest five percent of all schools – including at least the bottom five percent of Title 1 schools – based on performance on all indicators in the accountability system.
  • High school subgroups failing to graduate one third or more of their students within four years.
  • Any subgroup with the lowest score for all applicable non-graduation indicators, and one or two points for graduation, if applicable.

Requesting Technical Assistance and Support


In order to consolidate and unify requests for technical assistance and support from schools and districts across the state of Rhode Island, please use this form to request time with a team member, either at RIDE or on site in your school or district.

Framework

Rhode Island’s Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement


The Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement offers guardrails to guide the complex work of school improvement. It offers a structure to local education agencies (LEAs) and school communities as they articulate a coherent strategy and explicit philosophy to organize the work of a school and its partners. For this reason, adopting a framework for school improvement is crucial for RIDE, but more importantly, for our local education agencies (LEAs), our communities, and most importantly, our schools—including the leaders, teachers, and students within them.

As such, the subsequent framework has been adopted by RIDE and the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education as a response to requests from our partners in the field that, while innovation and flexibility in this work are closely-held values, it would be helpful for the agency to articulate evidence-based essential elements related to school improvement. Thus, the Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement:

A circle divided into four quarters, each labeled as turnaround leadership, climate and culture shift, high-quality materials and instructional transformation, and talent development and collaboration, which is linked by an anchor labeled equity and shared responsibility

CABs (Community Advisory Boards)

Community Advisory Boards (CABs)


Rhode Island’s ESSA State Plan affirms several beliefs for school improvement in Rhode Island, including that effective school improvement empowers students, families, and educators, that school improvement is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders throughout the statewide community and that school improvement is not possible without authentically engaged local communities and families. To enact these values, Rhode Island’s ESSA Plan requires all LEAs with CSI schools assemble one or several Community Advisory Boards (CABs). CABs are to be comprised of members of the community served by the identified school(s), and operate in conjunction with the CSI school and its LEA. CABs will be regularly engaged in the implementation and oversight of school improvement in partnership with LEAs and CSI schools. Additionally, CABs and LEAs must update the progress to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement emphasizes and elevates the work of the CABs in several domains of the Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement. Primarily, the CAB aligns to Turnaround Leadership and Climate and Culture Shift by strengthening the connections to and knowledge of the community to the efforts of school improvement, soliciting and acting upon stakeholder input, and ensuring families and students are invested in setting and pursuing school improvement goals.

The ultimate intent of CABs is to give voice to those in the communities served by schools identified as the lowest performing in Rhode Island. These communities are disproportionately comprised of families of color, low-income families, and families with limited English proficiency. The requirement of assembling CABs recognizes that for too long, these community members have lacked a dedicated seat at the table, authentic and ongoing engagement, and significant decision-making authority. Furthermore, RIDE believes that school improvement cannot happen without the assets and insights community members possess. Effectively implemented, CABs will become full partners in identified schools’ efforts to improve teaching and learning for all students.

  • CAB for Providence
  • CAB for Pawtucket
  • CAB for Chariho
  • CAB for Woonsocket
  • CAB for Cranston
  • CAB for DCYF
  • CAB for Rhode Island Nurses Institute
  • CAB for Sheila “Skip” Nowell Leadership Academy
  • CAB for Rhode Island School for the Deaf

Needs Assessment

Purpose of a Comprehensive Needs Assessment


ESSA requires that all LEAs with CSI schools conduct school-level needs assessment(s) to determine the possible causes of low performance and identify strategies for remediation. The ultimate purpose of a needs assessment is to develop an informed, accurate understanding of the current conditions of teaching and learning, climate and culture, student, teacher, and community characteristics and behaviors, and LEA systems, all of which contribute to the educational effectiveness and student success in an identified school and LEA. The needs assessment will also allow all stakeholders to norm on their understanding of a school’s strengths and areas for improvement through their utilization of an objective, data-driven, process.

An effective needs assessment will examine indicators against a variety of data sources including long-term outcomes (lagging indicators), mid-term outcomes, (leading indicators) and evidence of processes and systems (implementation indicators), which taken together provide rich context for making judgements about a school’s current conditions. Additionally, a robust needs assessment will call for the analysis of many different sources of data including learning outcome data, perception data, demographic data, and data concerning school and system processes. A quality needs assessment will provide opportunities for users to triangulate these multiple sources of data and organize them to develop a coherent, robust understanding of a school’s current conditions.

Ideally, needs assessments selected by CSI schools/LEAs will be aligned to the Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement and to the Rhode Island Statewide Accountability System in order to align the findings of the needs assessment in the context of the state’s model for supporting and improving schools. However, a coherent and robust understanding of a school’s conditions is only the first step; an effective needs assessment must also ask users to prioritize areas of concern that are most likely to yield the greatest gains for students. This will inevitably require a measure of judgement from the users of the needs assessment and be made in a larger context of national, state, and local data, as well as stated goals and strategic priorities at all three of these levels. Finally, once many sources of data are gathered, organized, analyzed, and prioritized, an effective needs assessment will ask users to develop hypotheses for the root causes of areas that emerged as in greatest need and with greatest potential for impact. These root causes, once identified, will form the basis of the next phase of school improvement: the selection of evidence-based interventions. RIDE acknowledges that there are several tools that support a robust and in-depth needs assessment. In practice, ongoing analyses are needed to ensure that data supports causal inferences and that additional data is not needed to confirm findings. However, RIDE believes schools and LEAs will be well equipped to identify their greatest needs, their root causes, and strategies most likely to improve the conditions of teaching and learning at schools when the following are true:

  • At each stage in the process, a well-rounded team of stakeholders (LEA, school educators and community advisory boards) are engaged as a collaborative team
  • The collaborative team is presented with sufficient data on a broad range of research-validated indicators of school improvement
  • The collaborative team leverages the Rhode Island Framework for Comprehensive School Improvement as an organizing theory for comprehensive improvement.

Selecting Comprehensive Needs Assessment Tools and Protocols


Every LEA with CSI schools and will be required to work with their identified schools and their respective CABs to conduct a needs assessment. This will require them to take the follow steps, described in greater detail below:

  1. Review and select a comprehensive needs assessment
    Examples of strong comprehensive needs assessments include:
  2. Identify and gather data
  3. Present data to the collaborative team (school and CAB)
  4. Prioritize indicators for root cause analysis

The comprehensive needs assessment process described in the following chart is intended to serve as a model, aligned to Rhode Island’s school improvement framework, accountability system, and research on characteristics of improving schools. It provides educators and CABs (collectively referred to as the collaborative team) with indicators, or statements of fact, which research has shown are related to positive student and school outcomes. Other example needs assessments can be found on the Rhode Island Continuous School Improvement Resource Hub. Regardless of the particular needs assessment selected for a given school or set of schools, the following process should be followed to achieve the best understanding of current conditions of teaching and learning at the identified school its LEA.

I.  Review and Select Appropriate Needs Assessment LEAs should determine which needs assessment is best suited to evaluate the broad range of factors affecting the conditions of teaching and learning at their identified school(s) by looking for needs assessments that align to the RI Framework for Rapid and Sustainable School Improvement, provide a robust set of indicators across all domains of a school ecosystem, and align closely with the RI statewide system of accountability.
 
II.  Identify and Gather Data LEAs, particularly system-wide leaders and data experts, must read needs assessment indicators, identify relevant data sources, and gather available data. To the extent possible, for each indicator, LEAs should gather data that is triangulated from multiple sources and provides context in the form of local, state, or national averages, past performance, statewide or LEA goals or accountability benchmarks, etc.
 
III.  Present Data to Collaborative Team Once the data is assembled for each indicator, LEAs should present the data for each indicator to educators and community advisory board members at the identified school to explain what the data are showing, answering any outstanding questions, and respond to requests for further data, if available. The collaborative team should use this opportunity to record initial reactions to and analyses of the data.
 
IV.  Prioritize Indicators Finally, after going through an initial analysis of each indicator, the collaborative team should review each indicator a second time, in order to make joint determinations of relative levels of performance and importance. Ultimately, 3-5 priority indicators will be identified for root cause analysis.

Additional Resources for Conducting Your Needs Assessment and Root Cause Analysis


Interventions

Requirement for Evidence-Based Interventions in School Improvement


Interventions carried out and supported by funding from Title I, Section 1003 (School Improvement) must have strong, moderate, or promising evidence supporting them. All other activities under Titles I-IV may use all four tiers of evidence as support for selected interventions. The following resources can assist LEAs in locating research to provide a more rigorous evidence base for funding applications:

  • The What Work Clearinghouse provides topical practice guides grounded in research as well as reviews of individual studies.
  • Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature.
  • ERIC is an internet-based digital library of education research and information sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the USDOE. ERIC provides access to bibliographic records of journal and non-journal literature from 1966 to the present.

Additional details on the federal grants requiring evidence-based support can be found in the comparison chart, as well as at Results For America. Finally, please refer to the following:

Additional Resources

Grant Funding

Grant Funding


1003 Funding for School Improvement Under ESSA

The following chart outlines the five new streams of funding for school improvement that are made available to schools under ESSA.

Grant Type Formula or Competitive Award Period Use of Funds Eligibility Total Funding Available Estimated Award Size
School Improvement: Support Formula 2 to 4 years Evidence-based school improvement activities as outlined in an approved school improvement plan. CSI $1,305,834 reserved by formula. $103/student at each identified school
School Improvement: Innovation Competitive 1 to 2 years Innovative, evidence-based, novel strategies or initiatives intended to augment school improvement interventions. CSI, ATSI/TSI Up to $2,210,879.80 + any unused support funds, to be divided upon all competitive funding streams. $10,000 - $100,000 per school across all streams
School Improvement: Dissemination Competitive 1 to 2 years Disseminating proven practices from any LEA or education service provider into schools identified as in need of Comprehensive Support and Improvement. CSI
School Redesign: Planning Competitive 1 year Incubating or investigating school redesign models or school turnaround leadership. CSI
School Redesign: Implementation Competitive 1 to 4 years Implementation of an approved school redesign models to improve performance at a chronically low performing school identified for additional state intervention. CSI

Further guidance on the specific uses of the funds, application format and model responses can be located within the Practitioners’ Guide to School Improvement pages 42-74. Download an editable version of the Comprehensive Funding Application. As noted within the linked materials, all applications for funding are due to RIDE no later than May 15, 2019.

School Improvement Launch Mini Grant RFP


As the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) supports districts and schools to transition to school improvement processes governed by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), one-time, non-renewable, small-dollar mini grants of up to $20,000 will be available to support a wide variety of activities during this transition period.

Complete RFPs for Launch Mini Grants will be accepted by RIDE on a rolling deadline, up until February 25, 2019 and can be submitted digitally via email to Krystafer.Redden@ride.ri.gov and Chiara.Deltito@ride.ri.gov.

School Improvement Bridge Grants


As the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) seeks to transition to school improvement processes governed by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), one-time, pro-rated, non-renewable formula-based funds will be offered to schools that were formerly identified as either Priority or Focus under the previous RI State Accountability System, but are now no longer identified.

Complete RFPs for Bridge Grants will be accepted by RIDE on a rolling deadline, up until March 15, 2019 and can be submitted digitally via email to SchoolImprovement@ride.ri.gov.

Additional Resources

Note as of December 18, 2018: RIDE will update this page with more information as it becomes publicly available, including information for principals, superintendents, families, students and community members about school improvement activities that will be happening throughout the state. RIDE is in the process of contacting system and building leaders at all schools identified as CSI in the 2018-19 school year and is convening with educators and community leaders to discuss school improvement work on January 11, 2019.