This story is exasperating to some of us in Providence who remember that as recently as five years ago, the PPSD had a whole school, Feinstein High School, graduating students solely on what is now called "competency-based" assessment. As Tom Brady's administration arrived in the PPSD, including the above mentioned Paula Shannon, and Deborah Gist took over at RIDE, this program was aggressively attacked.
Suddenly, graduation had to be based on credit hours, not demonstration of skills. Every school had to offer the same courses. The each course had to be based on a horizontally and vertically aligned guaranteed and viable curriculum. Regulation of the high school curriculum increased dramatically.
In 2010, the same year Feinstein High School registered the highest 11th grade NECAP reading scores that any PPSD high school achieved before or since, RIDE named the school "persistently low performing," and the PPSD declared its building inadequate and closed the school. Following the current pattern, a new charter school happily opened in the building the following year.
If this kind of teaching and learning is what the PPSD and RIDE had in mind all along, they could have saved themselves and many students, parents, and teachers a lot of time, energy and grief by simply maintaining and supporting existing programs.
Of course, one might bring up The Met in Providence as well.