New Report: Central Falls Graduation Rate Increased 20% in 3 Years

Saturday, October 19, 2013
Kate Nagle, GoLocal Contributor

Central Falls High School
The Central Falls School District released this week "The Central Falls High School Third Year Transformation Report" which showed that since state intervention in 2010, the 4 year graduation rate has improved from 48% for the class of 2009 to 70% for the class of 2010.

The report, which was conducted by the Education Alliance at Brown University along with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown, also found that Central Falls High School NECAP mathematics proficiency rate double from 7% in 2011 to 13% in 2012, and saw its dropout rate decrease from 35% for the class of 2009-2010 to 14% for the class of 2011-2012.

See Report Highlights BELOW

“This report shows that transformation is truly happening at Central Falls High School,” said Dr. Frances Gallo, Superintendent of the Central Falls School District. “We have made tremendous progress over the last three years. It has not been easy, and many challenges remain, but the entire Central Falls community – our teachers, students, parents, and community partners – should be proud that we have improved graduation and math proficiency rates for our students and have created a positive, respectful, and collaborative culture where learning can flourish at Central Falls High School.”

Noted education historian and research professor Diane Ravitch, who has written on national education issues, including Central Falls, said with regard to the report, "That 's wonderful news though I do wonder how the school managed a 70% graduation rate when only 13% were proficient in math."

Assessment of Reforms

The report is a detailed analysis of Central Falls High School’s implementation of a comprehensive transformation plan adopted in 2010 after the school was deemed “persistently low achieving” and in need of intervention by the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist extended her "warmest congratulations to the school leaders, teachers, students, and families in Central Falls on the dramatic progress made to date," added, "Although Central Falls High School still has a long way to go toward improving student achievement and reducing the dropout rate, the school has become an example of the success that is within reach when stakeholders work in partnership toward a common goal.”

The school district gives credit for improved graduation and dropout rates is attributed to the launch of several "Multiple Pathways" programs designed to "identify and assist non-traditional students."

Examples include Guide to Success, P.M. School, and Saturday School. Each of these programs was developed to provide primarily older students, many with children and work obligations, additional support, flexible scheduling, and opportunities to make up credits and accelerate their learning.
“Our Multiple Pathways programs have provided the flexibility and wraparound supports needed to help many of our students overcome personal challenges and earn their high school diplomas,” said Deputy Superintendent Victor Capellan. “This success could not have happened without our Multiple Pathways teachers who have put in long hours, developed innovative learning strategies, and have simply refused to allow our students to slip through the cracks.”

"Systemic Change Takes Years"

Anna Cano-Morales
Anna Cano-Morales, who is chairwoman of the Central Falls School District board of trustees and the director of university relations and of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, told GoLocal, "We're thrilled to see this amount of progress in a relatively short amount of time. Anyone in education reform knows that three years is a short amount of time. Systemic cultural change takes at a minimum of three to five years."

Cano-Morales touched up the climate facing the high school back in 201o -- and circumstances facing it now. "It was a turbulent initiation into transformation," she said. "It was sink or swim."

We had to make some difficult decisions about the future of Central Falls High School. We've proven our students can achieve and will achieve, but I don't we'll ever be satisfied until all of our students are heading to college, and are ready for life."

I think I was surprised how dramatic the effects could be that all students succeed -- not just the ones that show up to school with a belly full, homework done, good attitudes.

So I would that this is the evidence that things can be done under the most challenging of circumstances....we've proven to ourselves and the state that we're worthy of state dollars. Every person who pays taxes in the state invests in Central Falls.

As for any critics of the reforms, or results, Cano-Morales said.

"You can say no to certain things, but if you just say no -- and offer up nothing up in return as a solution -- all you're doing is nothing, and we can't afford to do nothing," said Cano-Morales with regard to making changes in Central Falls.  

This a testament to people who believed we could do better -- and took a risk. We care about our reputation and our work we do." 

  • Graduation Rates

    Central Falls High School Graduation Rates

    2008 - 2009: 48%

    2009 - 2010: 52%

    2010 - 2011: 71%

    2011 - 2012: 70%

  • Staff Survey

    CFHS has a clear vision of reform that is linked to standards for student learning and development -- agree or strongly agree

    Year 1: 56%

    Year 2: 54%

    Year 3: 70%

  • Staff Survey

    Staff and leadership openly discuss efforts to improve CFHS -- agree or strongly agree

    Year 1: 42%

    Year 2: 69%

    Year 3: 83%

  • Staff Survey

    CFHS has made changes to better meet the needs of its diverse student body - agree or strongly agree

    Year 1: 58%

    Year 2: 68%

    Year 3: 84%

  • Staff Survey

    Communication between high school leadership and teachers had improved this school year - agree or strongly agree

    Year 1: 40%

    Year 2: 67%

    Year 3: 77%

  • Student Survey

    My teachers keep me interested in class - agree or strongly agree


    Central Falls, 40%  

    RI State, 30%                


    Central Falls, 42%

    RI State, 32%               


    Central Falls, 63%,  

    RI State, 57%            

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