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RIDE names 22 schools as 2016 Commended Schools

The R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) today (October 12) released the 2016 school classifications, naming 22 schools as Commended Schools, the highest classification.

Two schools – the Fort Barton School (Tiverton) and the Rockwell School (Bristol Warren) – achieved Commended status for the 5th year in a row. Barrington has four Commended Schools and the Chariho Regional School District, Jamestown, and South Kingstown have 2 Commended Schools each. Three of the Commended Schools are charter public schools.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, I congratulate our 2016 Commended Schools for their high levels of achievement and for closing learning gaps,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “I want to thank the students, teachers, and families in these school communities for their commitment to excellence, and I want to ensure all Rhode Island educators and families that preparing students for success in college and careers remains one of the top priorities for the Raimondo administration.”

“I am pleased that we have identified 22 Commended Schools for 2016 – five more schools than we identified last year,” said Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “This is a sign of continued improvement among our highest-performing schools as well as overall improvements statewide on state assessments.”

“As we continue our transition to PARCC assessments and to the Every Student Succeeds Act, we will have more and better information regarding student progress, closing achievement gaps, and school improvement,” said Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “We are in the process of developing a new system for school classifications that will employ additional measures beyond state assessments. Improving outcomes for students is a responsibility we all share, and we encourage our school communities to review available data on student progress in order to support good teaching and learning.”

RIDE classifies schools by using an index (Composite Index Score, or CIS) based on four criteria:

proficiency levels (student performance on the 2016 PARCC English language arts and mathematics assessments);
gap closure (narrowing the achievement gap between the lowest-achieving students in the school and the performance standard for “meeting expectations” on PARCC assessments);
student growth (annual improvement for each tested student in the school, compared with other students at the same initial achievement level), and (for high schools);
the graduation rate for the Class of 2015 (most recent available data).

RIDE uses only 3 school classifications:

Priority Schools have the lowest index scores in the state;
Focus Schools have the lowest scores (aside from Priority Schools) for proficiency or gap closing;
Commended Schools have the highest index scores in the state and no achievement gaps; they can be recognized either for high achievement or for closing gaps.

The U.S. Department of Education requires states to identify a set number of Focus and Priority Schools annually (equal to a total of 15 percent of all Title I schools, which includes most of the economically disadvantaged schools in the state).

For 2016, 30 schools remain in the lowest classifications; RIDE has identified no new Focus or Priority Schools. Focus and Priority Schools must improve for two or three years, respectively, in order to exit from their classification. The William E. Tolman Senior High School (Pawtucket) exited from the Focus classification, based on its consecutive years of improvement.

Aside from Commended, Focus, and Priority Schools, no other Rhode Island schools receive classifications, although 50 schools received an “alert” because of either low participation rates on PARCC assessments or low graduation rates.

RIDE works closely with all school districts with Focus and Priority Schools to help the schools develop and implement transformation plans. RIDE provides some resources for school transformation, particularly through funding from federal School Improvement Grants.