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Redesigning Rhode Island's high school diploma system: Proficiency based graduation

Sandra A Barboza, Johnson & Wales University


Since the publication of a Nation at Risk in 1983, concern over the quality high schools has resulted in calls for reform (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). In response to these concerns, mandated educational standards and assessments have been instituted in several states to ensure that all students reach their full academic potential. The purpose of this mixed-method, multiple, case study was to examine how three targeted Rhode Island high schools have designed and implemented the components of the Rhode Island High School Performance Based Diploma System, as mandated by the Rhode Island Board of Regents. The primary emphasis of the graduation by proficiency component of the regulations is to enhance existing graduation requirements to include proficiency based graduation requirements (PBGRs) and to foster the development of local district assessment systems. The proficiency based graduation requirements as mandated by RIDE include: (1) Proficiency in Core-Content Knowledge; (2) Demonstrating proficiency in applied learning skills (Access and Opportunity, Fairness, Sufficiency, Alignment, and Standard Setting); and (3) Support Systems for all students. These proficiency based graduation requirements must delineate what all students need to know and are able to do in order to meet the intellectual challenges of post secondary education and high performance workplaces. Data was collected and analyzed through a structured survey with teachers (N=265), and in-depth interviews with administrators and department chairs (N=9). The survey data provided quantitative information; and the in-depth interviews provided qualitative information. All sources of evidence were reviewed and analyzed together, so that the case study's findings were based on the convergence of information from different sources. Results of this study will be presented to leaders at the RI Department of Education who are responsible for the implementation of the performance based graduation requirements. This summary may also be presented to a variety of professional organizations in Rhode Island.

Subject Area

Educational tests & measurements|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Barboza, Sandra A, "Redesigning Rhode Island's high school diploma system: Proficiency based graduation" (2007). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3321617.