Beacon's School Classification

The Impact of Choices

RIDE Releases List of Commended Schools

This week, the Rhode Island Department of Education released the list of Commended Schools for 2015. For the first time in three years, Beacon is not among these highest ranked schools. What happened?

The results are based on several indicators, including proficiency (using NECAP, not PARCC data) and graduation rate.

RIDE identified 17 schools as Commended, meaning they had an overall score of 77 or higher. Beacon's overall score of 82.8 is higher than 10 of the 17 Commended schools.

How is that possible? What did we do wrong?

The short answer: "Opting Out."

In a letter to all Beacon families last spring, I wrote:

"Without your support, Beacon’s classification as a Commended School (the state’s highest ranking) would be in danger if we are unable to maintain a 95% participation rate on PARCC testing for our students going forward. At Beacon, we have 116 students scheduled to test this year. If only 6 do not test, we fail to meet our participation rate."

When students in grades 9 and 10 sat for the PARCC tests for the first time, several Beacon families chose not to have their children participate in the testing. Our final participation rate was below the 95% threshold and, despite meeting all other measures necessary to achieve Commended status, and surpassing all but seven schools in the state in a summative score (encompassing the other measurable criteria), our Commended status was revoked.

Meeting this participation rate would have made us one of only two commended high schools and we would have been ranked higher than the other school, meaning we could have claimed to be the top-ranked high school in the state based on these criteria.

Was the PARCC test perfect? Absolutely not. They have spent the past year making it (thankfully) shorter and less burdensome for students.

Does it measure everything I need to know about my child's education? Nope. However, it provides critical data as to the effectiveness of several aspects of our educational program and your child's performance in those areas. It is one data point. Beacon will never measure your child by one number.

How did we do on PARCC? In short, we hit the ground running. Our school outperformed the state and the nation on 3/4 PARCC tests. All signs point to even greater success moving forward.

I would like to say "Congratulations! Your child attends the highest ranked high school in Rhode Island", but I can't say that today. A year from now I would like to be able to make that claim. Please do your part to make this happen.

Please continue to support your school so that we may always provide your students with the best education possible.


Michael Skeldon, Ed.D.