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RIDE Releases 2019 School Accountability Results

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) today released the 2019 results of school accountability. This is the second year of Rhode Island’s Star Rating system, developed to bring increased transparency and accessibility to school performance data under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal education law.

Ranging from 1 to 5 stars, the Star Rating simplifies and summarizes overall school performance, providing an easy-to-understand snapshot for families and communities. The Star Ratings, and all accountability data, are housed within the online Report Card platform.

“Rhode Island’s accountability system takes a holistic look at school performance, including traditional measures like test scores and graduation rates, and also emphasizing school culture and student learning experiences. This approach holds schools accountable for a broader range of measures, and pushes all communities to focus on areas for improvement,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “Every school and every community has work to do to improve outcomes for all students.”

In releasing this year’s results, RIDE also sent resources to principals to help them communicate results with families, including a fact sheet, a tutorial video on how to navigate the Report Card platform, and a video that explains the measures included in school accountability. Both videos are available in English and in Spanish on RIDE’s YouTube channel.

“It’s not enough to make data transparent. We need to consistently look for new ways to communicate and share the data so that it’s accessible and actionable for families and communities,” Infante-Green added. “I encourage and expect districts to talk about these results with students, families, and school teams, and work together to identify how the data will inform our collective work moving forward.”

A full list of measures included in school accountability is listed below. New this year are two measures at the high school level:

  • Commissioner’s Seal, which measures the percentage of high school graduates demonstrating high school proficiency in both ELA and mathematics on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, or approved Advanced Placement test. This measure is designed, in part, to call attention to the “honesty gap” in the number of students graduating high school without meeting expectations in ELA and math assessments.
  • Postsecondary Success, which measures the percentage of high school graduates earning college credits, Advanced Placement credits, or industry-recognized credentials.

Another additional measure, science proficiency, will be added to accountability starting in 2021. Rhode Island first did a field test of the Next Generation Science Assessment in 2018, and expanded to all students in grades 5, 8, and 11 in 2019. This year’s results were also published in the Report Card platform today, with 31 percent of students statewide meeting or exceeding expectations.

Statewide, there are 22 5-star schools, 49 4-star schools, 134 3-star schools, 59 2-star schools, and 35 1-star schools. Within the 1-star category are 22 schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), a federal designation for a state’s lowest performing schools. Half of those schools are located in Providence.

“With 11 Providence schools identified for low performance, the urgency of our work is more apparent than ever, but today’s accountability release is a stark reminder that this isn’t just about Providence,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education. “We cannot limit the scope of our work to 1-star schools alone. All schools can and must improve, so that every student has access to a world-class education.”

CSI schools are eligible for additional federal funding to support school improvement plans, which are required and must be developed with the help of a Community Advisory Board (CAB). Rhode Island notably created CABs in the ESSA State Plan with the explicit purpose of engaging families and community members in the school improvement process.

“At the same time that we work to engage students, families, and all stakeholders in the Providence turnaround work, we remain committed to engaging communities statewide in the school improvement process,” said Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “We all have a role to play in improving Rhode Island schools, and we hope that these results will spark additional conversations across the state about supporting educators, engaging students, and empowering families.”

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More Information on School Accountability

Unlike past accountability systems, which used an aggregated score, the Star Rating is determined using a broader range of performance measures. Schools must perform well across all measures to earn a high star rating. In other words, high performance in a single category cannot mask low performance in another.

The primary drivers of the accountability system, and of Star Ratings, are student achievement and student growth, measured through performance on state assessments. These measures are rounded out by a more expansive view of school climate and culture.

In addition to the Commissioner’s Seal and Postsecondary Success measures described above, the measures currently included in school accountability are:

  • Achievement: Student performance in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics on the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) for grades 3-8, the SAT for grade 11, or the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessment for students with significant cognitive impairments in grades 3-8 and 11.
  • Growth: Measures student improvement, year-over-year, on state assessments. Including a growth measure allows the state to recognize schools whose investments and approaches are moving the needle.
  • English Language Proficiency: Measures year-over-year improvement among English Learners, an important and growing population of students.
  • Student Absenteeism: The percentage of students who miss 10 percent or more of the school year, which is the benchmark for chronic absence.
  • Teacher Absenteeism: The percentage of teachers who miss 10 percent or more of the school year, with the exclusion of professional development or pre-approved absences of greater than five days.
  • Suspension Rate: Much like chronic absence, the suspension rate is a proxy measure for school climate and culture. Suspension should be a last resort, and if a school has a high rate of suspension, it tells us something about the school culture.
  • Exceeding Expectations: Measures the percentage of students earning top scores on state assessments.
  • Graduation Rate: Measures the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates to emphasize that no student should fall through the cracks and to credit schools for getting all students to graduation.

Student sub-group performance is also a central component of the system. In order to earn 5 stars, a school must have no low-performing sub-groups in achievement, growth, or graduation rate. If a school has two or more sub-groups classified as low performing, even if they perform very well in other measures, they cannot earn more than 3 stars.

As is federally required, schools are also identified for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) if student sub-groups are underserved. There are 158 schools identified for TSI, triggered if a student sub-group would be at a 1-star level if they were their own school. There are 117 schools identified for ATSI, triggered if a student sub-group would be in the lowest 5 percent if they were their own school.