Connections Newsletter Families and Schools Working Together in Providence
Message from Superintendent Lusi Greetings! I hope that you and your children are enjoying a great start to this school year. We were fortunate to enjoy a very smooth opening of school this year. To celebrate our new beginning, I visited every school in our district and thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to welcome back principals, teachers, staff and students. The schools and classrooms were buzzing with activities and learning – it was hard to believe that the school year was just a few days old! I believe that this is a great sign of a productive and successful year for our district and especially for our students. In this issue of Connections, you will learn about some exciting new initiatives underway in our schools such as the new zone organization and the walking school bus at Fogarty Elementary School. You will also find more detailed information about the early steps we are taking to turn around our struggling schools. Also, as a way of promoting innovation and attracting new partners to our schools, we have offered every school in our district the opportunity to apply for in-district charter school status. We hope to announce newly-proposed charter schools in the next issue of Connections. We also have created a unique partnership with the Providence Teachers Union, the first nonprofit education management organization of its kind in the nation. United Providence! will help lead the turnaround process for a group of our underperforming schools.
Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi and Mayor Angel Taveras enjoy a moment before riding the first bus route of the year to Carl G. Lauro Elementary School.
RI Department of Education Classifies 15 Additional Providence Schools as Needing Intervention When the Rhode Island Department of Education released the 2012 School Classifications under the new Rhode Island Accountability System, 15 additional Providence schools were classified as needing improvement. These schools have joined the nine schools already identified under Cohorts 1 and 2 of the School Improvement Grant Program over the last two years.
I look forward to working together with all of you toward an exciting year of success.
In a letter to the community on the day the 2012 classifications were announced, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and School Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi said, “There is a deep sense of urgency to invest in and transform educational outcomes in these schools and throughout our district. As a city and district community, we are faced with the tremendous opportunity and responsibility to dramatically improve student achievement in every school and especially our most struggling schools. We owe this to our students and their families and must work collaboratively to recalibrate expectations and redefine what is possible in our schools.”
Susan F. Lusi, Ph.D. Superintendent providenceschools.org/twitter providenceschools.org/superintendent
Under Rhode Island’s new accountability system, all schools received a composite index score that reflects multiple measures of school performance, progress and growth. RIDE classified the schools under one of six categories: commended, leading, typical, warning, focus and priority, ranging from highest to lowest overall scores.
One of my most important messages for this school year is the importance of regular daily attendance. Your children cannot learn if they are not in school. Please do all that you can to ensure that your children are able to come to school every day ready to learn.
C o n t e n t November 2012 | Vol. 10 | Issue 1
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Additional Schools Needing Intervention Walking School Bus underway New Zone Organization for Schools First Day of School 2012-2013
Nine Providence schools have been identified as Focus schools, including: George J. West Elementary School, Harry Kizirian Elementary School, Frank D. Spaziano Elementary School, Nathan Bishop Middle School, Esek Hopkins Middle School, Providence Career and Technical Academy, Hope Arts High School, Hope Information Technology School and Central High School. (Continued on page 2) 1
(RIDE Classifications/Continued from page 1) Newly identified Priority schools are DelSesto Middle School, Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School and the Robert L. Bailey IV Elementary School. “We have much serious work to do in our district,” said Dr. Lusi. “We expect that the changes we make in our struggling schools will drive extensive schoolwide reform throughout Providence Public Schools.
Family Service volunteers Ally Trenteseaux (left) and Melissa Fernandes (rear) walk with children to Fogarty Elementary School as part of the pilot Walking School Bus program.
Walking School Bus Underway at Fogarty It brings children to school in all kinds of weather, but doesn’t have seats or wheels. It depends heavily on the commitment of its volunteers and parents and is designed to improve students’ attendance. It’s not a vehicle, actually. It’s the walking school bus launched this fall at Fogarty Elementary School. So far, six children are participating and, thanks to the efforts of the school community, a second route has been added. When the Providence Children’s Initiative began working with families at South Providence’s Fogarty Elementary School, they created a school attendance map as part of their effort to help families overcome barriers that put their children on track to becoming chronically absent. The map showed that most of the families with attendance issues live within a mile of the school, according to Michelle Cortes-Harkins, who heads the initiative, a program of Family Service of Rhode Island. “Volunteers from the school, Inspiring Minds and ServeRI will walk a route beginning on Oxford Street that has five different ‘walking bus stops,’ where students may gather to walk to school in groups with adult supervision,” Cortes-Harkins said. “The idea is that parents will feel comfortable having their children walk to school even if the parent is unable to do so on a particular day, due to work schedules or other barriers.” “We are so grateful to the Providence Children’s Initiative for developing an attendance map and the Walking School Bus initiative. We owe a special thank you to the volunteers who accompany the Fogarty Elementary students to school,” said Providence Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi. “It’s critically important that we be creative in finding ways to eliminate chronic absenteeism. “This simple, safe and healthy program will help to ensure that children arrive to school on time and are less likely to miss important lessons that cannot be captured through makeup work. We hope this will serve as a model for additional schools in our district,” added Lusi. If you are interested in volunteering for the Walking School Bus at Fogarty Elementary School, please contact the Providence Children’s Initiative at (401) 3311350, ext. 3457. c 2
“Those transformations can serve as examples of how collaborative efforts can bring remarkable changes and success for our schools’ students,” she added. “But we must act quickly. We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders – administrators, labor unions, teachers, parents, and community partners – to raise the bar for student achievement.” Priority, focus and warning schools must select and implement strategies designed to accelerate student achievement. Priority and focus schools will first participate in a diagnostic screening, now underway, to identify school strengths and weaknesses. Following the diagnostic phase, the district will choose one of three models for each of the priority and focus schools: • Closure: district closes the identified school and enrolls the students who attended that school in other public schools within the state that are higher-achieving. (We do not see further school closures as a viable option for Providence at this time.) • Restart: district converts a school or closes and reopens a new school under new management • Flex Model: district selects a comprehensive package or intervention strategies from a RIDE-developed and managed list of 28 empirically-proven intervention strategies. The selection of strategies must be 1) coherent, 2) comprehensive, 3) responsive to the results of the diagnostic screen, and 4) ambitious but achievable. Priority and focus schools are required to select intervention strategies informed by the diagnostic analysis and develop school reform plans. Priority schools will engage in a three- to five-year intervention process. Focus schools will engage in a two- to three-year intervention process. Additionally, all warning schools must select and implement one targeted intervention strategy to address the reason for the school’s classification. For detailed information about school classifications and an explanation of how the criteria was applied to each school, please visit our Providence Public School District website. (Continued on page 3) Published for parents of the Providence School Department by the Office of Communications. Questions regarding this newsletter should be directed to: Providence Public School Department - Office of Communications, 379 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903. Director of Communications
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(RIDE Classifications/Continued from page 2) A complete list of the 2012 School Classifications and links to the 2012 Rhode Island School Report Cards are available at: www.ride.ri.gov/DataWorks. With more than half of the schools in our district identified as low-performing, three bold districtwide changes are being implemented: a new organizational structure for our schools into three zones (see related article below), partnerships with Lead Partner organizations that have the expertise to support and drive turnaround efforts; and the opportunity for every school in our district to apply for in-district charter school status. We will cover the district charter school proposal in more detail in the next issue of Connections. Meanwhile, the Providence Public School District has established a strong labor-management partnership with the Providence Teachers Union. Together, the PTU and PPSD launched United Providence! as a new nonprofit joint labor-management organization, the first of its kind in the nation to support the restart process in three schools. United Providence! will help direct turnaround efforts at Gilbert Stuart Middle School, Carl G. Lauro Elementary School and Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School. The district has also developed a partnership with Cambium/ NAEP, a national education management organization that specializes in school turnaround and has been supporting efforts at Mount Pleasant High School, Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex and Central High School. The diagnostic phase is currently underway to determine the school and districtâ€™s strengths, needs and areas for improvement. Once that is complete, the district has until January 11, 2013 to complete the school level-diagnostics and select school models and intervention strategies detailed above. The Rhode Island Acting Commissioner of Education will review and approve the intervention models. The school district will have until February 15, 2013 to develop the school-level plans, further describing our strategies for each school and how they will be implemented. As with the last round of identified schools, there will be multiple opportunities for the community to become involved. Public meetings will be held in October and November to present information about the new identifications, the models and the process of selecting strategies. c
First Day of School 2012 - 2013
Carl Lauro Principal Linda Reigelman, who joined the district this summer from Ohio, reassures her younger students on the first day of school.
Sharing a good laugh on the first day of school are Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi and teacher Jaina Harrison at Carl G. Lauro Elementary School.
A one and a two; Central High School music teacher Joyce Bernauenriquez jumps into a lesson on the first day of school.
New Zone Organization for Schools With more than half of Providenceâ€™s schools identified for intervention by the Rhode Island Department of Education, it is important that we have strong partnerships between our schools and the PPSD central office in order to drive results and promote academic excellence. Over the summer, a new organizational structure was developed that is designed to increase support for all schools district-wide. Providence Schools have been organized into three zones: the Acceleration Zone, the Advancement Zone, and the Innovation Zone. This approach allows the district to more thoughtfully allocate staff and resources in order to better serve and support schools. (Continued on page 4)
Suzanne Quinn, a kindergarten teacher at George J. West Elementary School, leads her new students in a lesson during Circle Time. Find us on Facebook to view more images of our first day of school and discover more about our schools: www.providenceschools.org/facebook 3
(New Zones/Continued from page 3) E NC
The new zone configurations cluster schools according to need, grade levels and programming. The zones are designed to more effectively target resources and supports for students and educators in every building. Each zone will report to and be supported by one of the district’s executive zone directors and a central office support team. All three zones will have a strong emphasis on college and career readiness and promoting K-12 integration.
812 Branch Avenue
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3 LAURO 1D’ABATE GREGORIAN 2 2 DELSESTO 2CLASSICAL PCTA 2 2CARNEVALE 2CENTRAL 1 MESSER at BRIDGHAM 1SPAZIANO 1 1WEBSTER EA 3STUART ST FORTES 1 1LIMA PR BAILEY 3 O 1 3FOGARTY 3COOLEY & PAIS 3WILLIAMS 99 Kenyon Street
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Providence Schools have been organized into three zones: the Acceleration Zone, the Advancement Zone, and the Innovation Zone.
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191 Webster Ave.
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3YOUNG & WOODS 3FEINSTEIN AT SACKETT 1FEINSTEIN AT BROAD 674 Prairie Avenue
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The Resident Overnight Parking Program is Now Open!
The Acceleration Zone, led by Dottie Smith, includes 12 elementary schools that house most of the district’s elementary bilingual, ESL and dual-language programs. The Advancement Zone, led by Marc Catone, is a K-12 zone comprised of 12 slightly higher-performing schools. The Innovation Zone, led by Dr. Kregg Cuellar, is also a K-12 zone comprised of 12 schools needing the support and flexibility to make dramatic improvements in learning for all students. Schools in this zone will continue to pilot comprehensive and innovative reform strategies in order to quickly and substantially raise student achievement; several of the Innovation Schools are supported by organizations acting as “Lead Partners,” a term which means they are deeply embedded and invested in providing supports and rethinking approaches to learning. “We are pleased to announce this new organizational structure that will increase and tailor supports for all schools district-wide,” said Providence Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi. “This new zone-based approach will allow the district to more thoughtfully allocate staff and resources to better serve and support its schools. We are already seeing the many benefits of the new zone configurations, including targeted support, greater accountability, and improved communication between the central office and schools. We look forward to many additional benefits to this reorganization for our schools and students as the school year unfolds.”