Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feinstein High School: Closing a "Persistently Low Achieving" School Outside the Protocol for Intervention

Had some back and forth with Elliot Krieger at RIDE following my email last week:

On Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 8:49 AM, Krieger, Elliot
<> wrote:
> Tom, to try to clarify - You are correct that in January 2010 RIDE identified (based on our formula for measuring school achievement) Feinstein H.S. as one of the persistently lowest achieving schools in the state. At the time of this announcement, Providence had already decided to close FHS for reasons other than low performance.
That is simply untrue.  The PPSD board had not made that decision at
that point.  For example, Lilian Feinstein Elementary was already proposed for closure
by PPSD and on the lowest performing list, but kept open.

> The entire purpose of identifying schools as persistently lowest achieving is for the schools to build a stakeholder group, choose a reform model, and implement the model in order to improve student achievement at the school. Schools identified are eligible to apply for federal funds to help with these reforms.
The PPSD did form a stakeholder group, whose recommendation was
ignored by the PPSD and RIDE.

> It would have been absurd and unfair to continue to identify Feinstein as one of the schools in the first cohort, as there would be no purpose to developing a reform plan or in applying for federal funds for FHS. We would have (rightly) been criticized for avoiding the intent of the law by identifying a school that would take no action.

> Therefore, I January 2010 we also identified 5 other schools in the first cohort, the minimum required # based on our total # of schools.
So... at some point was Feinstein High School formally removed from the list?

<> wrote:
> Correct, Tom - FHS was not part of the official list sent to the U.S. Department of Education. Ultimately, 5 schools officially identified in that cohort, which was the minimum # required.
That is not true Elliot.  It is clearly identified in your application here:

Apparently the PPSD and RIDE was allowed to close the school outside
the intervention process, but it was still officially named as tier 1
persistently low achieving (with an asterisk).  So an accurate
statement would be:

"In January 2010, Rhode Island identified its first cohort, including
Central Falls High School and five Providence schools (the B. Jae
Clanton Complex, the Juanita Sanchez Complex, Lillian Feinstein
Elementary School at Sackett Street,  the Roger Williams Middle
School, and Feinstein High School). All of the schools in the 2010
cohort are implementing plans for school transformation, except
Feinstein High School, which was closed outside the state's
intervention process."

And I must note that the only discernible reason not to close FHS as
part of the protocol for intervention is the fact that by many
measures it was the highest performing neighborhood school in
Providence at the time it was closed, and thus there were no qualified
schools to transfer the students to.

I'm not sure what he was referring to in his last email, but it seemed we'd pretty much exhausted the topic:

That would be true, had they gone through the protocol and decided on school closure as the reform model for FHS.

The most interesting point here is that RIDE and the feds have already established a precedent for setting aside the intervention process for schools designated as tier 1 lowest achieving.

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