New report raises red flag for 12% of RI schools

By: Alexandra Cowley

A new report by the Department of Education says Rhode Island schools are improving slightly, but many are still lagging. 32 schools in the Ocean State will need state intervention for receiving the lowest ratings. Most of those under performing schools are right here in Providence.

The 2014 school classification summary for Rhode island rates 277 schools. Of those, 30 were given the top ranking of Commended, about 11 percent.
32 RI schools got the states lowest ranking. Marked as a Priority or Focus for state intervention, about 12 percent.

Schools are graded based on proficiency, closing the achievement gap, and graduation rates. Some of the schools earning the lowest grade, have done so for years. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says that doesn’t necessarily mean the schools aren’t improving, but rather it’s a part of the classification system.

Commissioner Gist says, “the way that they receive a new designation, meaning that they’re no longer considered a focus or priority school, is when they have demonstrated sustained improvement growth over time. That we can be confident that the growth that they saw was not just a one time occurrence, but that they really are on the right track.”

Of the 32 schools with lowest rankings, 22 are in providence. A discouraging record for parents.

Bill Yabroudy is from Pawtucket, but moved to Coventry when he and his wife started a family.

“If you have the money in Providence you’re going to send them to a very good school, if you don’t, I don’t see any reason for moving to Providence unless they get into Classical or a charter school,” Yabroudy said. 

The same goes for Andre Harris, who’s skeptical about putting his five-year-old son through the Providence School District.

“Because we have the lowest rate, you know, and the children aren’t getting the teaching that they need and I don’t blame the parents to go out of Providence, I don’t blame them,”  Harris said. 

Those underperforming schools must come up with a turnaround plan approved by Commissioner Gist. Another 55 schools were given a warning, which means they’ll also have to come up with a transformation plan, but will be under less scrutiny.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014