RIDE and XQ Institute Announce Selected Schools from First-of-its-Kind Statewide Challenge to Reimagine High School

Published on Tuesday, March 10, 2020

PROVIDENCE, RI — The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and XQ Institute—the nation’s leading organization dedicated to transforming America’s high schools so all students succeed—today announced two public high schools selected to implement brand-new, transformative proposals as part of the first-of-its-kind XQ+RI Challenge.

Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts (TAPA) in Providence and Ponaganset High School in the Foster-Glocester Regional School District will receive best-in-class advisors and tools informed by leading edge research to turn their bold and innovative designs into reality and serve as beacons of what’s possible for all Rhode Island high schools. Both schools will also receive two-year grants of $500,000 each and become part of XQ’s Community of Practice, a diverse group of innovative schools nationwide that learns from and with one another, alongside leading education researchers and experts.

The XQ+RI Challenge invited all 64 public high school communities across Rhode Island to rethink high school in order to expand educational equity and prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s world. The challenge was designed with community, equity, and innovation at its core. It helped schools deeply and authentically engage educators, families, and students in this transformative high school redesign process. Of the 32 high school teams that submitted proposals, 20 received planning grants in June of 2019 and then conducted an intensive design process over seven months.

“I’m thrilled that XQ chose to work with Rhode Island on this groundbreaking partnership,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “The XQ+RI Challenge represents a unique opportunity for our state to continue to push ourselves on behalf of all Rhode Island students. These innovative proposals have been developed by local school communities and will have lasting implications for our entire state. I’m proud that Rhode Island is a model for how students, educators, and policymakers can work together to transform high school education.”

“XQ is proud to work with Rhode Island in our collective focus on cultivating a new generation of high schools designed to meet the unique challenges of students and achieve breakthroughs in educational equity,” said Russlynn Ali, CEO and Co-Founder of XQ Institute. “We are grateful to and inspired by the leadership and unwavering focus of Governor Raimondo and Commissioner Infante-Green, as well as the 20 school teams throughout Rhode Island. We know the work ahead is hard—but necessary—and we are ready to learn together as we usher in transformation across the nation.”

At the heart of TAPA’s proposed redesign is the deliberate cultivation of “the Artist Mindset” and using the arts as a means to drive academic, career, collegiate, and social-emotional excellence. Students will learn to use the core artistic skills of self-reflection, continual practice, creation, collaboration, critical thinking, and community making in all of the work they do. Through this work, TAPA will shift what it means to be a student, teacher, and leader.

Ponaganset High School, located in the rural Foster-Glocester School District, will transform their culture toward creating high expectations for all students—including students of color and those with special needs—by rethinking time, using space creatively, and developing new course pathways to put students at the center of their educational experience.

“I am so proud of what these school communities have to done to earn their XQ+RI designations. They are outstanding examples of how we are working to advance Excellence in Learning across Rhode Island,” said Angélica Infante-Green, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We can no longer accept one-size-fits-all approaches to high school. That approach has left too many students and schools playing catch-up. The XQ+RI partnership proves that community input matters deeply—because students, educators, and families know what they need to prepare our young people for success.”

Additional participants in the XQ+RI Challenge, 360 High School in Providence and Woonsocket High School, were particularly ambitious in presenting how to enable students to become owners of their own learning and social change agents. These teams will receive XQ Accelerator Awards of $120,000 each this year, which they can use to advance their bold ideas for whole-school transformation.

360 High School will hone its focus on student “making” as a whole-school strategy that reconstructs the instructional model and expands differentiation, particularly for multilingual learners. With its whole school redesign, Woonsocket High School aims to rebuild classroom culture and build educator capacity to support student agency, rigor and mastery through extensive partnerships. Woonsocket High School is the community’s only high school and aspires to have a ripple effect on the area’s revitalization.

The third component of the challenge includes the 16 high schools that will be recognized with $20,000 XQ Momentum Awards for their commitment to diving deep into their schools’ data and confronting issues of equity and rigor with candor. They will also receive ongoing support—from webinars throughout the year to full access to XQ tools and resources. The awards will support proposed projects envisioned by teams during the XQ+RI planning process like incorporating the “design thinking” process into student learning, creating “summer link” experiences designed to give every student a strong start and strategies to strengthen relationships between educators and students.

The XQ Momentum awardees are: Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence; Barrington High School in Barrington; Chariho Regional High School representing the Chariho Regional School District; William B. Cooley Sr. High School (JSEC) in Providence; E-Cubed Academy in Providence; East Providence High School in East Providence; Evolutions High School in Providence; Highlander Charter School in Warren; Hope High School in Providence; The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls; The MET - Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Providence; Mt. Hope High School representing the Bristol-Warren Regional School District; Mount Pleasant High School in Providence; Scituate High School in Scituate; Smithfield Senior High School in Smithfield; and YouthBuild Prep in Providence.

“The energy for this work of reimagination and fundamental transformation of the high school experience in Rhode Island is alive and well with all 20 teams,” said Nicole Campbell, managing director of state and local strategy at XQ Institute. “Every team has their unique role in leading their communities and the state toward unprecedented outcomes and opportunities for the full range of students in Rhode Island. As the first to move forward with implementing bold plans through XQ+RI this Fall, TAPA and Ponaganset are leading the way. Our support and partnership will extend to include Woonsocket and 360 High School, the Momentum Award recipients, and the larger Rhode Island community—with a collective vision for the entire state to challenge itself to rethink what high school education should be—with equity, rigor, and students front and center. Our work is just beginning, and we are thrilled.”

To learn more about XQ+RI, visit https://xqsuperschool.org/xq-schools/xq-rhode-island.

Press Release Topics