The R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) has awarded $300,868 in grants to four charter public schools to create and support partnerships with school districts and with other public schools to improve teaching and learning for all students. The grants come from federal funds that RIDE received from the U.S. Department of Education Charter Schools Program.

“These partnerships between four of the charter schools – Blackstone Academy, Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Middle School, the International Charter School, and the Paul Cuffee School – and other public schools will enable our teachers and students to expand successful practices and build upon existing strengths,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “This collaboration can lead to dramatic improvements in schools and will benefit our students.”

“Our charter public schools are given increased flexibility in exchange for increased expectations and accountability,” said Daniel S. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “These grants will encourage and support charters and traditional public schools as they work together, learn from one another, and meet the needs of students and families.”

“As educators, we do some of our best work when we come together in a spirit of partnership to share ideas and best practices,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We were very pleased to receive several excellent proposals that will form new partnerships and strengthen existing partnerships between charters and traditional public schools. We at RIDE want to commend teachers and school leaders from across the public-school spectrum for their commitment to collaboration, innovation, and excellent instruction.Schools applying for these grants proposed projects that met three criteria:

  • included a partnership with a public school classified as either Focus or Priority, our two lowest school classifications
  • increased the effect of successful instruction and leadership on students with disabilities and English learners
  • established or strengthened a partnership between a charter and a traditional public school (or schools) that uses the expertise and resources of all participating schools so as to benefit all participants

RIDE worked in partnership with the Rhode Island Foundation, whose education grant-making has supported several partnerships between public charter schools and traditional district schools, in publicizing this grant opportunity.

The grant recipients and their proposals are:

Blackstone Academy Charter School, in partnership with the Central Falls School District and Central Falls High School, will grow and support the college-going culture and college-access infrastructure at both Blackstone Academy and Central Falls High. Building on the experience of Blackstone Academy, the partnership will build collaborative staff training and participation at all levels, college visits and classroom initiatives for students at each school, and engagement and school-visit opportunities available to parents from each school.

Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy Middle School will partner with the Central Falls School District and the Calcutt Middle School to support and expand the collaboration between BVP and the Central Falls School District in the critical area of mathematics instruction in middle school. The project will create a partnership between BVP teachers and leaders and the Calcutt Middle School teachers and leaders to share and learn from one another strategies for how best to support all learners and to build on the success BVP has achieved in curriculum implementation and differentiation to improve student achievement in mathematics.

The International Charter School will share tools and expertise with the Pawtucket and South Kingstown School Districts to support the creation of dual-language education programs. The project will focus on growing the curricular materials for dual-language education and on creating professional sharing opportunities.

The Paul Cuffee School will strengthen its relationship with the Providence Public Schools and Central High School through a project focused on expanding evidence-based argumentation instructional practice. The project will center on Common Core Anchor Standard competencies in reading and writing by building on an existing partnership with the Rhode Island Urban Debate League, and the project will create a community of practice among teachers from each school to provide unique learning experiences and professional development.