Introducing the Fuse Architect Schools – Central Falls High School

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Led by assistant principal Amy Burns and principal Troy Silvia, Central Falls High School (CFHS) is dedicated to helping students meet their graduation requirements and preparing them to make informed decisions around post-secondary opportunities. The school reform plan (SRP) goals at CFHS include increasing the graduation rate, improving English and math proficiency, and decreasing chronic absenteeism.

Central Falls High School Demographics

# of students % of students eligible for subsidized lunch % of students receiving ESL/bilingual services % of students receiving special education services
667 79% 35% 24%

Building on the SRP goals, Central Falls applied for the Fuse Architect project with hopes of redesigning their school’s approach to educating and supporting their freshman class. In the early fall of 2016, examination of academic and non-academic data indicated that ninth graders were arriving at Central Falls with some key deficits in the skills necessary for successfully completing high school. In response, CFHS leveraged funds to provide 40 freshmen with an extra dose of reading each day, as well as embedded socioemotional learning (SEL) opportunities. Preliminary data from the pilot demonstrated that this more personalized and supportive approach improved student reading proficiency and data on SEL indicators.

The CFHS Fuse Architect team wanted to build on the success of the pilot and focus on the 9th grade academy on personalized instruction and student voice. Their application described a plan to equip ninth graders with academic and non-academic skills they need for success in high school and postsecondary pathways. Through the newly developed “Fuse Architect ninth grade freshman experience,” the Central Falls team hoped to prioritize student agency and facilitate deeper learning in the Nellie Mae’s Student-Centered Framework.

Central Falls High School was well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities offered through the Fuse Architect grant. In spring 2015, every CFHS student was provided a Chromebook to use in the classroom and at home. With this level of access, many classrooms have started to embrace the “learning anytime, anyplace” philosophy. In addition to technology access, the district has also partnered with RIDE to personalize instruction and support through the Rhode Island Multi-tiered System of Support (RIMTSS). This integration of both behavioral and academic supports lessens burden on the school staff and ensures a whole-child approach to student success by using systems, data, and evidenced-based practices.

CFHS also leverages a variety of different technological platforms to support student learning and personalization. One challenge, however, was that none of the Central Falls technology platforms “talked” to each other or to the district’s student information system. The Central Falls team is hopeful that their Fuse Architect project will enable teachers, support staff, and leaders to more efficiently individualize instructional practices and monitor student progress more effectively, while directly improving the school experience for the new ninth grade class.

At the end of Phase 1, Central Falls’ design team continues to think outside the box. Among the innovative ideas, the team plans to implement an instructional model that provides teacher support while gradually releasing students into more control over the path/pace at which they learn and the way they demonstrate learning, and to provide early meaningful exposure to opportunities in high school and college that are aligned to student interests. As shared by assistant principal Amy Burns, “One of the most exciting parts of this work has been the collaboration between students and teachers. We have a team of six students who have been integral to the shape and direction of Fuse Architect…this gives the entire project authenticity.” Central Falls is looking forward to continuing the pursuit of their goals as the grant continues Phase 2 of the work.

To learn more about the Fuse Architect project, updates, and partnerships, see all blogs in this series!

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