Frequently Asked Questions
What is this report about anyway?
INFORMATION WORKS! (IW!) provides you with a statistical profile of
how each RI school and district is doing, according to the measures the state has decided
are most important. It does not tell you how any individuals are doing,
whether teachers, administrators or children. It describes how the school functions
as a whole, given its challenges and assets.
Where did the report come from?
For many years RIDE produced school district profiles with selected
information on each school within a particular district and one small
statewide summary of that information. In the early 1990's, a public desire for
greater school accountability lead to the development of the SALT, School Accountability
for Learning and Teaching, initiative. SALT's leadership began working on creating a
continuous information feedback process to help RI schools reflect on themselves and their
practices in light of student achievement, and to create strategies to improve results.
The 1997 passage of Article 31 greatly accelerated the pace of the SALT initiative and
further defined its objectives. Over the past two years, RIDE has been building an
information system that will serve both the legislative demand for accountability and
schools' need for information that will drive well-informed decisions. INFORMATION
WORKS! is the biggest and most comprehensive of the reports that will come out of this
initiative, although other smaller reports, each with a specific focus, will use the same
data and be made available to the public.
What will it be used for?
INFORMATION WORKS! is primarily designed to inform school
improvement. The Regents have set the standard that all children become proficient
in each subject area. No school has achieved this standard. School communities
need as much information as they can get to inform, drive and prioritize school
When writing a School Improvement Plan,
school-based teams can turn to IW! for information about gaps in student performance, for
example, in order to target initiatives or resources to close certain gaps. Perhaps,
the school climate or culture is having a negative impact on the performance of a group of
children with particular characteristics. INFORMATION WORKS! along with the SALT survey --which gathers much information about
instructional practices, attitudes and expectations -- would help to identify specific
When working on Curriculum Development, the
various ways the charts illustrate the assessment data can inform and help prioritize
where the school might like to re-think their current program. For example, if the
students are performing poorly on the writing assessment, perhaps writing should be
introduced more broadly across the curriculum. IW! points to the specific need to
explore new strategies to boost student achievement in the area of writing.
When negotiating adequate yearly progress with the state department
of education, the graphs and charts will be used to understand the challenges the school
faces and what a reasonable improvement target might be.
These charts provide parents and community members
with information about how well their local schools are doing where they are
succeeding and where there is room for improvement. IW! is designed to spark
constructive dialogue among parents, community members and the education community that
will help all of them make informed decisions about strategic school improvements and
What is this comparison of our
students with similar students statewide?
In brief, RIDE and researchers
at URI's National Center for Public Education (NCPE)
have used statewide student data to create a virtual school, if you will, with students
whose characteristics are statistically the same as those in your school. The point
of this exercise is to give schools a sense of how they are performing while taking into
account a number of student variables. In the past schools have been compared by raw
achievement scores as if the challenges in each school were roughly the same. We
know they are not. In the future, as schools improve and as the statistical model is
expanded with more variables, the "virtual schools" will also change.
A much more complete description of this model is available in the
User's Guide that accompanies INFORMATION WORKS. A
Technical Brief composed by the researchers is
accessible on the home page of this site.
How can I find out more details about
the specifics in the report?
We strongly recommend quickly scanning the whole of the User's
Guide to become familiar with the information and explanations about each field
in the charts. This document explains many details, though certainly not all, such
as how certain numbers were calculated, the meanings of the descriptors on the assessments
and the sources of information for each field.
We also encourage you to ask questions or submit your own comments
by visiting the INFORMATION WORKS! Discussion Forum through the Rhode Island Education Exchange site. You will need
to give yourself a password which will allow you to use the interactive capabilities
henceforth. This discussion allows you to ask any question, and the Department of
Education is committed to giving you an answer within a week's time or less. The
discussion also displays all the questions asked and answered this year, in case yours is
among them. In time, frequently asked questions will be incorporated into this list
which you are now reading.
Every school has been assigned a Field Service Liaison by the
Department of Education. They have been trained in the reading and
practical use of these charts and can help schools make sense of them.
What does this have to do with the
SALT or School Accountability for Learning and Teaching is designed
to create a continuous information feedback process so that a school can reflect on itself
and its practices in light of many indicators of student achievement. The
information is being collected in a variety of ways, including the SALT Survey, the SALT
School Visits lesser data collection efforts. The state assessments, for example,
are not administered under the SALT umbrella even though SALT uses that information to
inform school improvement efforts. INFORMATION WORKS! is one report, albeit the most
comprehensive report, from RI's data collection and analysis efforts. SALT has been
confused with the SALT Survey, but the survey is only one aspect of RI's accountability
efforts. SALT is fundamentally about the process of school improvement.
Therefore, SALT leadership is also involved in promoting and guiding the use of
information in such activities as school improvement plans and School Report Nights.
What are the differences between the
1999 Information Works! and the one published in 1998?
This year's INFORMATION WORKS contains about one third more data
than last year's.
The charts that show the assessment data disaggregated by student
characteristics -- Field #4 -- include symbols that
indicate why the fields are blank.
Eight individual item responses from the SALT survey have been
included on each of the school pages as indicators of the extent to which schools support
numeracy, literacy and the involvement of both home and the community.
Four other SALT survey items appear on the district pages to
indicate district support for school improvement.
SALT Survey responses for parents and teachers appear as new "Selected school indicators."
Perhaps most importantly, each school has set clearly defined
achievement targets and those targets are now made public in the last field on the school
In general, the quality of this year's data is significantly
improved because everyone at all levels of the system did a better job, from submitting
data on time, to correcting discrepancies and verifying accuracy.
This year's Statewide Analysis
of INFORMATION WORKS will focus on 4th grade proficiency and what it will take to help all
fourth graders reach proficiency in literacy and numeracy. Besides using the data
sources for INFORMATION WORKS, that analysis will also include data from the 1999 Rhode
Island Kids Count, the 1998 SALT Survey, the Providence Demography Initiative and other
sources. RI has begun to assemble an unusual series of data sets which are rich in
information that can more accurately drive policy and budget consistent with the Regents'
and Legislative goals.
To obtain your own child's individual performance results or for
information about your school's performance, contact your school office.