HIGH SCHOOL PROFICIENCY BASED GRADUATION
A Smithfield High School diploma is the official recognition that a student has met the state and Smithfield graduation requirements and has demonstrated the necessary proficiency to graduate. The Diploma System is designed to support students in becoming proficient life-long learners in order to successfully pursue post-secondary academic and career goals. Proficiencies in academic areas will be based on appropriate content area standards set by the Rhode Island Board of Education (RIBOE). Proficient performance for graduation is necessary in each of the six core academic areas. English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies will be aligned to such appropriate, RIBOE approved content-area standards. All non-core academic classes required for graduation will abide by relevant national and state-approved content-area standards, including associated industry standards for programs in career and technical education.
The requirements for a Smithfield High School Diploma will be set by the School Committee and published annually in the High School’s Program of Studies and/or Student Handbook. Such requirements will be consistent with Rhode Island Board of Regents Regulations. Diploma requirements will be developed for all specific statutory requirements otherwise set forth in the General Laws, such as, specific requirements for Rhode Island history, health, and physical education. Only students who demonstrate fulfillment of these graduation requirements and proficiencies shall participate in the graduation ceremony and receive a diploma.
Each class will receive a Graduation Handbook detailing the specific graduation requirements.
The requirements for a Smithfield High School Diploma will include:
- Completion of the minimum required coursework credits, both in total and for specific subjects. Such coursework shall include both formative and summative performance of student knowledge and skills adequate to determine proficiency at the level of academic rigor required by relevant content standards. Twenty-two required credits will be represented by four academic credits of English Language Arts, four academic credits of mathematics, three academic credits of science, three academic credits of history/social studies, two academic credits of physical education/health, one half academic credit of fine arts, one half academic credit of technology/STEAM, one half credit of personal finance, and four and one half credits of electives.
- Achieve proficiency or better on a digital Graduation Portfolio assessment, including a collection of performance assessments which documents a student’s academic performance over time and demonstrates deep content knowledge and applied learning skills.
- Successful completion of thirty (30) hours of community service activity demonstrating one or more of the school’s identified expectations for learning, or fifteen (15) hours of Career Exploration. Beginning with the class of 2019, students must complete fifteen (15) hours of Career Exploration. Community service will no longer satisfy this requirement, though will be encouraged to promote civic duty and learning experiences.
- Successful completion of state assessments according to a timetable determined by the BOE. Beginning with the class of 2021, minimum proficiency benchmarks on state approved assessments will allow a student to receive a “Commissioner’s Seal” on his or her transcript. Updates related to such benchmarks will be communicated to students and families.
- Students must achieve a score of proficiency or better on a Senior Demonstration. This presentation, made before a panel of school and community judges, will allow students to engage in a reflective presentation, based on the guiding questions: “How have I impacted, or how will I impact, my community and the world around me?” and “How have my experiences during my time at Smithfield High School helped me to establish this vision?” Presentations will be assessed based upon presentation benchmarks and indicators, communicated through relevant rubrics.
- All requirements for graduation with regard to sub-paragraphs A through F above shall be set by the School Committee and published in the Program of Studies and/or Student Handbook.
- Each student, beginning no later than entry into sixth grade, will create an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) with assistance from the Guidance Department, parents and community contacts. The ILP will be actively used by educators, students, and families to guide and monitor student progress along individual pathways toward proficiency for graduation and post-secondary plans.
II. Definition of Proficiency
Proficiency is assessed through multiple measures at Smithfield High School. Proficiency is a measure of a student’s knowledge and skill demonstrated in a consistent manner across multiple disciplines in various settings over time. A general description of proficiency for graduation includes the following criteria.
- Demonstration of the knowledge and applied skills necessary for college and career readiness in order to pursue a post-secondary education or enter the workforce in high-performing workplaces in order to become productive citizens in a global society.
- Demonstration of the ability to actively apply their content knowledge to critique existing ideas and concepts taking into account their relation to other ideas and concepts, usefulness, and validity.
Proficiency graduation is based on mutual, shared accountability. The school district is accountable for the educational program designed to enable all students to reach proficiency. Students are accountable for participation in, and completion of, their program.
III. Role of State Assessments
State assessments are given to high school students according to a timetable determined by the BOE. Beginning with the class of 2021, minimum proficiency benchmarks on state approved assessments will allow a student to receive a “Commissioner’s Seal” on his or her transcript. Updates related to such benchmarks will be communicated to students and families.
IV. Diploma Commendations and Certificates
Smithfield may award certificates of academic and technical skill achievement and work readiness and life skills to any student who has satisfactorily completed specific coursework or other standards-based activities that indicate a recognized level of knowledge and/or skills. Certificates may be included as part of a student’s transition plan to post-secondary academic or work training programs.
V. Certificate of Individual Achievement
The RIBOE shall establish the minimum criteria necessary to earn a Regent’s commendation. Smithfield Public Schools may set additional or higher academic requirements for students to earn a Regent’s commendation. A parent or guardian of a student with an IEP may request that the student participate in graduation ceremonies and receive a Certificate of Individual Achievement. The Certificate of Individual Achievement can only be granted if the following requirements are met:
A. The student has an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) and is eligible for the RI Alternative Assessment, and;
B. The student will have completed at least four (4) years of high school and wishes to participate in a graduation ceremony, and;
C. A review of the graduation status of the student is conducted by the student’s IEP team as part of the student’s transition plan eighteen (18) months prior to graduation and again six (6) months prior to graduation. The review will address the student’s transition goals, IEP goals, and competencies and any decision regarding graduation status shall be recorded in the IEP.
D. The IEP Team shall inform the principal in writing of any decision regarding graduation status prior to January 15th of the school year of the graduation; and,
E. Notwithstanding any other provision in this policy, a parent or guardian may challenge the decision of an IEP team through the due process procedures guaranteed under state and federal law.
The receipt of a Certificate of Individual Achievement will not affect a student’s right to receive Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), or to receive a diploma in the event that the student subsequently satisfies the requirements to receive a diploma. Students who are assessed with the Rhode Island Alternate Assessment (RIAA) and/or the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) will need to meet the same requirements as all students under the Smithfield High School diploma policy.
VI. Access and Opportunity
Smithfield High School will work to ensure the district’s definition of proficiency meets the criteria of fairness and access as described in BOE regulations, particularly with regard to opportunities to learn. Students can meet the requirements set forth in this policy while enrolled in a state approved career and technical programs, expanded learning opportunities, such as dual enrollment, on-line learning, and other non-traditional academic and career readiness programs. Recognition of these learning opportunities as fulfilling the requirements in this policy is predicated on the alignment to state adopted standards and/or other relevant national or industry standards.
The curriculum will be designed to make it accessible and equitable to all students. All students in Smithfield shall have access to curriculum and instruction that is designed to build proficiency in the areas required for graduation. The framework of a comprehensive school counseling program and a scaffolded literacy support program will facilitate this. Accordingly, experiences that enhance and extend student learning and foster student interest should be part of the high school experience. Some of these opportunities to learn may include, but are not limited to:
▪ Advanced Placement
▪ Dual enrollment/EEP
▪ Distance learning/Virtual schools and colleges
▪ GED programs that bridge to college
▪ Tech Prep/College Tech Prep
▪ Alternative Learning Program
▪ PBGR ramp up courses
▪ Summer School/Portfolio Summer School
▪ Literacy/Numeracy Ramp up
▪ Alternate appropriately credentialed programs/schools
▪ Other outside learning experiences
Creating pathways that complement the learning styles and career interests of our students in ways that enable them to see the relevance of a high school curriculum and achieve graduation standards is an important goal of Smithfield High School.
VII. Supports and Accommodations to Students
- Students with disabilities and students who are English language learners are expected to present evidence of successful completion of proficiency-based graduation requirements. Students with disabilities have the right under federal law to continue working toward successful completion of the proficiency-based graduation requirements until the age of 21.
- Smithfield will provide all students access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum, monitoring each student’s progress toward literacy and numeracy, and providing sufficient supports including a Scaffolded Literacy System for all students. A local progress monitoring system (i.e., STAR) will be utilized to screen and diagnose learning achievement and readiness issues. Performance on these assessments may result in changes to student course requests and program placement.
- Students with disabilities and identified English language learners (who have been served by Rhode Island public schools for less than three full years) may participate in an age-appropriate commencement ceremony, whether or not they are receiving a diploma at that time.
- Students will be provided with the requisite supports designed to offer meaningful opportunities, including alternate pathways, to complete the proficiency requirements for their diploma. These supports shall be documented in the student’s individual learning plan. Alternative educational and training programs and/or partnerships appropriate to these student’s life needs, life goals, and abilities will be developed on a case by case basis.
- The Middle School and High School shall implement strategies for creating more personalized learning environments, including the provision of a structure by which every student is assigned a responsible adult, in addition to a school counselor. Student advisory structures shall be an integral part of the Middle School program.
VIII. Communication to Parents and Students
Adequate notice of graduation requirements will be provided to each member of each class and their family upon their entry to middle school and again upon their entry to high school. Students will be screened and diagnostically assessed to determine their literacy and numeracy needs. Appropriate instructional interventions will be provided, and students with identified literacy and/or numeracy needs will continue to have their progress monitored.
Full and effective notice of the graduation requirements must be provided to students upon entry into sixth grade and again by October 1 in their ninth grade year, or at the time of enrollment for transfer students. Furthermore, the minimum achievement level on designated statewide assessments for graduation purposes must be provided to students and their families no later than October 1st in the year in which said students enter the ninth grade or at the time of enrollment into the local educational agency for students who transfer during middle or high school.
In the event a student is in jeopardy of not earning a diploma, a record of multiple and timely individual notices to the student and his/her family will be maintained. The record should include: (1) clear notification of the student’s academic status; and (2) the opportunity to meet and discuss the student’s academic program, support, and planned interventions; and (3) regular updates of student performance and progress. All such communications must be provided in a format accessible to families and students.
Parents, students and teachers will collaborate to keep families informed of student progress toward graduation throughout their high school career. It is incumbent on all involved to concentrate on the requirements to be met annually and to set goals for each academic year
IX. Transfer Students
It is recognized that students entering the school system close to graduation may have difficulty completing graduation requirements, particularly if they transfer from a school with substantially different requirements. Consequently, the following process will be used for transferring students.
- Students entering Smithfield High School requiring two or more years of work necessary prior to graduation (typically before the start of the junior year) will meet all requirements in order to receive a Smithfield High School diploma.
- Students entering Smithfield High School with less than two years of work necessary prior to graduation (typically after the start of the junior year) from a Rhode Island high school with a graduation system approved by the Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education may use the requirements of their prior school. In addition, other independent activities or assessments may be included with the requirements of Smithfield High School to meet proficiency standards, subject to the supervision and standards of the High School Appeal Review Board. The student shall meet all other graduation requirements as determined by the High School Appeal Review Board. A student exercising this option must do so in writing to the principal, co-signed by parents if under 18 years of age. Any student wishing to appeal the decision of the High School Appeal Review Board may follow the process of appeal described below.
- Students entering Smithfield High School with less than two years of work necessary prior to graduation (typically after the start of the junior year) from any high school not covered in letter (B.) shall meet all requirements in order to receive a Smithfield High School diploma.
- Individual cases not addressed by this policy may be addressed based on the recommendation of the High School Appeal Review Board and subject to the approval of the High School Principal. (See Section X - Process of Appeal)
X. Process of Appeal
Any student who believes that he/she has been improperly denied a diploma may utilize the school system’s appeal procedure through administrative steps as outlined in the student handbook to the High School Appeal Review Board then to the Principal, District PBGR Committee, Superintendent, School Committee, and Commissioner of Education. This process shall be communicated annually to students and families.
When a student reaches the age of 18, that adult student is presumed under RI law to be capable of making his or her own educational decisions. According to federal special education regulations, when students with disabilities who are receiving special education and related services reach the age of majority (age 18 in Rhode Island), the parental rights in special education transfer to the student. This means that the student has full access to the school record and makes the final decision in all matters related to their education including the contents of the Individualized Education Plan.
ADOPTED: February 26, 2007
REVISION: April 6, 2009; August 1, 2011; January 27, 2014; August 4, 2014; August 3, 2015; January 19, 2016; August 21, 2017