Rhode Island Launches First-of-Its-Kind Statewide High School Design Challenge (Press Release)

PROVIDENCE, RI - Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced today a first-of-its-kind partnership with XQ, the nation's leading organization dedicated to reimagining high school education so every student succeeds -- no matter their race, gender, or ZIP code. XQ+RI: Rhode Island's XQ Challenge will engage communities to create student-centered schools that help prepare all young people for the future.

"Rhode Island high schools are doing some truly exciting work, with a record number of students taking advantage of advanced coursework, early college, and hands-on learning opportunities. More must be done, however, to ensure that every student accesses these opportunities and graduates prepared for college and career," said Governor Raimondo. "XQ chose to do its first-ever statewide partnership with Rhode Island because they see tremendous potential here, and with their support and experience, we will be able to scale up best practices so that we can make high school more challenging, engaging, and relevant than ever before."

XQ+RI is grounded in the state's goals to create meaningful college and career pathways for all students, with a particular focus on promoting student voice while increasing rigor, relevance, and expectations. The challenge will support local community teams as they redesign school environments so when all students graduate, they are prepared and empowered to be inventors of their own learning paths, careers, and adult lives.

"The industrial model of education, where we talk at students sitting neatly in rows, is disconnected from the realities of a 21st century economy. Increasingly, our schools -- and high schools, in particular -- are finding ways to better align what students are learning in the classroom to the skills and experiences they need to be ready for college and career," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "There is really good work happening in our high schools and with XQ's help, we can think bigger and move faster."

In 2015, XQ -- Rhode Island's partner in this endeavor -- launched as a nationwide open call to reimagine and redesign the American high school. More than 10,000 people from every state answered that call with unique ideas for innovative, student-centered high schools that prepare all young people for tomorrow's world. Since then, XQ has continued to support locally driven redesign efforts, sharing open-source tools, resources, and learnings to inspire high school transformation efforts across the nation.

XQ+RI is its first statewide partnership, and XQ will be providing implementation grants of up to $500,000 each for successful redesign plans.

"The high school experience lays the foundation for developing lifelong learners able to navigate a rapidly changing world. It is the fulcrum of our education system-next-generation high schools can drive improvement throughout the system, from kindergarten through college," said Russlynn Ali, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of XQ. "We applaud the Governor and Commissioner for their leadership and commitment to a community-led process for creating big, ambitious change in Rhode Island's high schools."

XQ+RI is rooted in community, equity, and innovation. School design teams will be expected to engage students, families, community, and higher education partners, as well as district educators, in their efforts to reimagine high schools to expand learning -- schools where young people are at the center, where the community is the classroom, and where time, space, and technology are used differently.

The process will begin in the spring with XQ+RI Design Days, regional sessions where school communities can learn more about how they can participate in the statewide challenge, as well as begin to create their plans.

"I'm thrilled that Rhode Island has captured the attention and imagination of this national movement to improve the high school experience. Building pathways to postsecondary education and rewarding careers for all students is a critical piece of our long-term strategy for education, and the XQ Design Process will make those pathways stronger and more responsive to the needs and interests of our students," said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education.

XQ+RI Design Days will be hosted and facilitated this spring by the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Rhode Island Office of Innovation, with support and expertise from XQ. Design Days will bring school community teams together to identify challenges, evaluate the needs of their students, and participate in a design thinking process that will lay the foundation for the next phase of planning.

To learn more about XQ+RI, visit www.RIDE.ri.gov/xqri or contact XQRI@ride.ri.gov.

-30-

Meg Geoghegan