First release of results as required by state law show baseline for districts post-pandemic; place spotlight on districts’ areas of strength and needed improvement to better inform stakeholders, including families
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Today the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) issued the first release of its Local Education Agency (LEA) Accountability results. The release meets a state requirement established by the Education Accountability Act of 2019 – RIGL 16-97.1-2(a)(1) – requiring RIDE to provide a mechanism to review and report on the efforts of schools, charter schools, and school districts, including regional school districts, to improve the academic achievement of their students.
Rhode Island has adopted a system of LEA Accountability that is congruent to the established system of school accountability; is aligned to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education; and emphasizes improvement and equity with in-depth profiles of districts and key indicators for school leaders to monitor and consider for improvement. With consideration of the deep impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, for its initial launch, the LEA Accountability system does not provide star ratings for districts but rather detailed visualizations for each metric factored to help districts identify root causes and determine actionable steps to improve academic outcomes.
“The snapshots of district performance the LEA Accountability system provides will help school communities identify their areas of strong performance as well as areas for improvement,” said Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Chair Patti DiCenso. “Data is central in our efforts move Rhode Island’s state education system forward and better serve our students. The Council remains committed to ensuring students, families, and school staff and leaders have the tools and resources to improve academic achievement.”
“Rhode Island students are on a path to academic recovery post-COVID, but we must stay the course and continue to follow the data to ensure their future success,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “The insight our LEA Accountability system offers is critical in our decision-making to make sure we improve students’ academic outcomes statewide. With a focus on accelerating learning and closing the gap created by the pandemic, we are committed to expanding access to high-quality extended learning opportunities and ensuring the proper support systems are in place for students to thrive. We are at a pivotal time in education in Rhode Island, and we must leverage the information we have on our district’s promising areas and challenges, to create a stronger, more equitable state education system that prepares all students for success in college and career.”
LEA Accountability information can be found within RIDE’s Report Card, an online platform that displays a range of performance data. The Report Card platform includes many different kinds of data but a significant portion is focused on accountability. While a District Report Card has been shared since 2018, in 2023, RIDE will release a much more comprehensive report with bar charts to better inform education stakeholders.
The LEA Accountability system also establishes clear expectations for growth and improvement that include all students across the state. This information reflects an aggregation of all students in each LEA, now fully capturing and including students for the first time that were previously unaccounted for in the School Accountability System such as outplaced students. This information is especially critical in the wake of the pandemic as LEAs seek to leverage funds and resources to support strategic planning and actions articulated within their various plans including LEA’s Strategic Plans, American Rescue Plan Act (ESSER III) plans, and Consolidated Resource Program (CRP) plans. The information contained within the report cards will help monitor progress and performance towards targeted areas of growth and improvement.
Indicators for the LEA Accountability include:
- Achievement: Illustrates how students are performing on RICAS and SAT tests, and the DLM alternate assessment, in mathematics and ELA.
- Growth: Calculated from student growth percentiles, it recognizes student progress in ELA and math as compared to their academic peers.
- English Language Proficiency: Measures the progress of Multilingual Learners in reaching English language proficiency. It measures the adequacy of each student’s annual progress toward proficiency. The ELP indicator represents the progress made toward each student’s annual growth target.
- Graduation Rates: The Composite Graduation Rate includes four-, five-, and six-year adjusted cohort graduation rates, with each of the cohort rates weighted equally. For each school or LEA, this incorporates information on three different cohorts; the graduates and number of students in each of the four-, five-, and six-year graduation cohorts for the most recent reporting year. It is important to note that in any given year, the Composite Graduation Rate is based on three different cohorts of students.
- Diploma Plus Measures: The Diploma Plus measures are designed to recognize when schools better prepare students for postsecondary success by measuring two main features of preparedness: academic proficiency as determined by students earned a Commissioner’s Seal, and postsecondary credentials such as industry-recognized credentials, college credit, and Advanced Placement (scores of a 3 or higher).
- School Quality and Student Success: The five measures are: ELA Exceed Expectations, Math Exceed Expectations, Student Suspensions, Student Chronic Absenteeism, and Teacher Chronic Absenteeism. The two Exceeds Expectations measures report the percentage of students who perform at a Level 4 on the state assessments in ELA and mathematics out of tested students who meet the requirements for accountability reporting.
The LEA Accountability results offer key takeaways statewide including that the pandemic had a severe impact on district performance. A report released by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment in April 2022 indicated that it would take three to five years of accelerated learning for Rhode Island students to return to pre-pandemic academic achievement. As noted by the Learning, Equity & Accelerated Pathways (LEAP) Task Force report, specific subsets of students experienced a greater impact from the disruption of the pandemic including multilingual learners, differently-abled, students of color, and those economically disadvantaged. These challenges were especially evident with the number of districts where the English Language Proficiency (ELP) indicator was a focus area, as well as the number of subgroups within districts that were low performing.
The recent results show that among LEAs, 31 have English Learning Proficiency as a focus area for improvement and 21 have Achievement. On the other hand, 25 LEAs showed strong performance in Graduation Rates and 17 in Growth. In recent weeks, RIDE has been briefing school leaders on the results of the LEA Accountability system and has also created a state and national inventory for strategies to address root causes for the challenges districts are experiencing.
Recently, RIDE has announced several initiatives aimed to help district’s better support students and improve outcomes. In early March, RIDE awarded Multilingual Learner (MLL) Success Grants, which will provide $322,899 to 10 LEAs to support the implementation of the State’s Blueprint for MLL Success. The agency also opened applications for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Comprehensive Equity Grant which proposes $390,000 aimed to close equity gaps and create opportunities for MLLs, who have not historically participated in high-quality CTE programs. Most recently, state leaders announced the recipients of nearly $4 million in grant funding aimed to expand access to extended learning opportunities through partnerships between LEAs and community-based organizations with the goal of improving student outcomes across Rhode Island.