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School Accountability and Classifications

In 2018, Rhode Island updated its system of school accountability under the federal education lay, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The most significant change is that Rhode Island now assigns a Star Rating to every public school. Ranging from 1 to 5 stars, the Star Rating simplifies and summarized overall school performance, providing an easy-to-understand snapshot for parents and communities. 

NEW! Accountability FAQ - 9/15/2020

RIDE plans to release accountability results for the 2020-21 school year in Fall 2021, but some of the measures will be affected by COVID-19. RIDE will continue updating this document as schools reopen and we receive additional clarity on requirements from the US Department of Education and feedback from stakeholders.

Accountability 101 Webinar

Learn about Rhode Island’s updated system of school accountability under the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This webinar details the measures used to evaluate school performance, how those measures are used to create School Star Ratings, and how this important data is presented to families.

How is My School Doing?

Download, print, and share this two-page primer on school accountability, Star Ratings, and School Report Cards. This overview gives a simple breakdown of every performance measure included in our system of school accountability.

Learn more about specific indicators:

The Goals of the System


The accountability system enables RIDE to:

  • Focus on achievement gaps;
  • Document and learn from schools that are making great progress;
  • Provide information that raises questions for further investigation; and
  • Identify schools that need additional support and attention.

The Components of the System

The primary drivers of school accountability, and of Star Ratings, are student achievement and student growth, measured through performance on state assessments. These measures are rounded out by a broader range of school climate, culture, and achievement measures.

Measures currently included in school accountability:

  • Achievement: Student performance in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics on either the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) for grades 3-8, or the SAT for grades 10 and 11.
  • Growth: Measures student improvement, year-over-year, on state assessments. Including a growth measure allows the state to recognize schools whose investments and approaches are moving the needle.
  • English Language Proficiency: Measures year-over-year improvement among English Learners, an important and growing population of students.
  • Student Absenteeism: The percentage of students who miss 10 percent or more of the school year, which is the benchmark for chronic absence.
  • Teacher Absenteeism: The percentage of teachers who miss 10 percent or more of the school year, with the exclusion of professional development or pre-approved absences of greater than five days.
  • Suspension Rate: Much like chronic absence, the suspension rate is a proxy measure for school climate and culture. Suspension should be a last resort, and if a school has a high rate of suspension, it tells us something about the school culture.
  • Exceeding Expectations: Measures the percentage of students earning top scores on state assessments.
  • Graduation Rate: Measures the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates to emphasize that no student should fall through the cracks and to credit schools for getting all students to graduation.
  • Commissioner's Seal: Measures preparedness of high school graduates through proficiency on math and ELA assessments.
  • Post-secondary success: Prioritizes college credits and industry-recognized credentials from career education programs.

In future years, Rhode Island will include performance on a state science assessment. 

2019 School Classifications

The 2019 school classifications and Star Ratings have been released. Every year, RIDE identifies schools as being in need of Comprehensive Support and Improvement, a federal designation for low-performing schools. Also known as “Comprehensive Schools, these schools receive additional support and oversight from the state, including access to School Improvement Grant funds and to a curated hub of resources, tools, and evidence-based strategies for improvement.

Download the data, or for more detailed information, please see the School & District Report Cards.

2018 School Classifications

For more detailed information, please see the School & District Report Cards.


2017 School Classifications

Pre-ESSA, schools there were three categories for school classifications:

  • Commended Schools: Commended schools were the highest performing in the state. They were defined by a Composite Index Score (CIS) that was greater than or equal to 90.
  • Focus Schools:Substandard achievement in reading and math, unacceptable achievement gaps, and little or no academic progress in improving student achievement or increasing graduation rates. For 2017, no new schools were identified; currently classified schools had the opportunity to exit if criteria were met.
  • Priority Schools: The lowest achievement in reading and mathematics, intolerable gaps in student performance and demonstrate little or no progress in improving student outcomes. For 2017, no new schools were identified; currently classified schools had the opportunity to exit if criteria were met.

View the 2017 Accountability and Classification Dashboard or download the data

For more detailed information please see the School & District Report Cards.