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Supporting smart approaches to education
By Connie Grosch / March 26, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

Schools with high concentrations of low-income, urban students often have less successful educational outcomes. We are committed to changing that. Because Rhode Island’s future depends on cultivating critical, analytical, and forward thinkers, Education Success is one of our strategic priorities. We are investing in schools and programs that promise to improve educational outcomes for all students.

 

Research suggests that good teachers hold the most promise for significantly reducing achievement disparities. Teaching students to set goals, work hard, meet challenges, and to help others will lead them to success in school and in life. By supporting the SouthSide Elementary Charter School in South Providence – which opened its doors last September – we are striving to help end the disparity in education outcomes. Partnering with Amos House and Community Preparatory School, SouthSide focuses on low-income and homeless students with a goal of preparing them for college preparatory schools like Community Prep, which will continue to operate a middle school.

With its proximity to Amos House, SouthSide will integrate the unique educational needs of homeless children with the socioeconomic needs of their families. Homeless children are more likely to change schools, have more absences, have lower reading and math scores than children who have a home – in general, they tend to experience serious and frequent educational disruptions. According to the most recent Providence Plan data, unemployment and poverty are higher in South Providence than almost anywhere else in Rhode Island. Since college success is the most likely way to escape generational poverty, SouthSide is using a variety of strategies to ensure its students leave fifth grade on the right track.

  • High expectations: Students will know that they are expected to work hard and that their teachers will help them do so.
  • Small school setting: The student population will be small, creating an environment where each child is known well by the adults and other children.
  • Aggressive parent outreach: SouthSide will involve parents in their children’s education through goal-setting conferences, parent workshops, and weekly phone calls from teachers.
  • Small group instruction: Using blended learning and technology at their best
  • More learning time: Offer longer school day and longer school year, as well as a summer program to reduce vacation learning loss
  • Intensive tutoring program
  • Encourage service learning: Develop leaders through community involvement and service 1

Talented teachers and administrators can create an atmosphere that dramatically boosts the performance of urban, low-income students. Results suggest that the freedom charters have to hire staff and to shape school culture can make a huge difference. By identifying, testing, and spreading best practices, we are doing everything we can to prepare teachers and students for success in the classroom.

 

1 SouthSide Elementary Charter School Application to RIDE

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