A statewide initiative to rethink high school.

RI + XQ is a first-of-its-kind statewide initiative powered by a partnership between the Rhode Island Department of Education and XQ.

How Does RI + XQ Rethink High School?

RI+XQ is a first-of-its-kind statewide initiative powered by a partnership between the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and XQ. Together, we introduced a challenge designed with community, equity, and innovation at the core to engage educators, families, and students in a transformative high school redesign process. The result is a statewide commitment to high school transformation—with new graduation requirements approved in the fall of 2022—as a powerful lever for system-wide change.

Discover RI + XQ

1. The journey to individual high school redesign

RI + XQ started in 2018, when we launched with interactive design sessions for all 64 public high schools in Rhode Island. The sessions invited state leaders, teachers, school leaders, students, families, and local partners to dream big about the future of high school in Rhode Island by leveraging resources like XQ’s Learner Outcomes and Design Principles. Of the 32 high school teams that submitted proposals, 20 received planning grants in June 2019 and began a seven-month design journey to develop full redesign proposals.

In March 2020, following a rigorous selection process, XQ named Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts (TAPA) and Ponaganset High School as XQ schools, recognized 360 High School and Woonsocket High School with XQ Accelerator Awards, and honored 16 additional schools with XQ Momentum Awards. These schools included Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence; Barrington High School in Barrington; Chariho Regional High School representing the Chariho Regional School District; William B. Cooley Sr. High School (JSEC) in Providence; E-Cubed Academy in Providence; East Providence High School in East Providence; Evolutions High School in Providence; Highlander Charter School in Warren; Hope High School in Providence; The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls; The MET—Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Providence; Mt. Hope High School representing the Bristol-Warren Regional School District; Mount Pleasant High School in Providence; Scituate High School in Scituate; Smithfield Senior High School in Smithfield; and YouthBuild Prep in Providence. Learn more.

2. Transforming high schools statewide with new graduation requirements driven by XQ’s Education Opportunity Audit

After working with individual high schools in Rhode Island, our partnership led to a statewide approach. All Rhode Island high schools were invited to participate in an Educational Opportunity Audit (EOA). XQ’s EOA is central to our commitment to equity. It’s a rigorous and comprehensive process—conducted with students, teachers, families, and leaders—that identifies hidden patterns and barriers to college and career readiness by gathering and analyzing student transcripts, surveys, and focus groups. 

In June 2020, XQ and RIDE presented an analysis of the Rhode Island high school student experience. Our EOA found only six out of 10 of the state’s students were enrolled in the courses they needed to be considered college-eligible. The state’s K-12 Council challenged RIDE to identify solutions and create a plan to address barriers students face during their high school experience. Rhode Island doubled down on its commitment to making high school the entry point for systemwide transformation. In 2021, RIDE Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green established an Office of High School Transformation to prioritize and advance this work. 

In response, RIDE proposed new Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements and an accompanying Action Plan. Parents, students, educators and other members of the public were given ample opportunity to weigh in over the next 18 months, in virtual and in-person meetings. The amended graduation requirements were the most commented set of regulations in K-12 education in Rhode Island and represented extensive input from the public, including comments from the formal public comment period and public conversations. View a summary of the regulations, public comment, and latest slideshow here.

On November 15, 2022, the Rhode Island Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved updated Secondary Regulations that aim to reimagine high school and the statewide graduation requirements. The secondary regulations establish college and career-ready coursework as the default expectation for every child in Rhode Island regardless of where they live, their parent’s income, the language they speak at home, or their disability status.  

The revised regulations have three priorities: prepare graduates to create their own future; increase engagement through real world relevant learning experiences; and change how we support our children and families.

“Through extensive community engagement, we have further refined the Secondary Regulations to reflect the voices of students, families, and educators of Rhode Island, and develop an action plan that will ensure successful implementation over the next five years,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “RIDE is committed to supporting and inspiring our educators implementing the graduation requirements and providing them with the tools they need to succeed. Together, we will continue reimagining the high school experience and ensure all of our students have the opportunity to create their own future.”

3. Community activations and student engagement

Rhode Island leaders knew it would take broad and unwavering participation from community members across the state to make their bold vision a reality. In September 2021, XQ and RIDE hosted a community activation event at the WaterFire Festival to raise awareness, seek public input, celebrate educators, amplify student voice, and showcase high school transformation. Governor Dan McKee and Commissioner Infante-Green joined nearly 15,000 attendees. The experience invited the community to interact with student data and share ideas for spending new state and federal funding alongside live music, local art exhibits, and the Inside Out Photobooth Truck.

Keeping the focus on student voice and empowerment, WaterFire also included a series of student roundtables. Students shared their current experiences in school and their thoughts on how high schools could make them feel more valued, empowered, and prepared. Check out this video highlight of our student roundtables.

The festival kicked off the XQ + For Freedoms Student Billboard Challenge. This challenge invited students ages 13-21 to articulate their hopes and dreams on a billboard design. For Freedoms and XQ designed and displayed the winning billboards across Rhode Island. Get inspired by the student gallery to see how America’s students imagine the future of education. 

In 2022, XQ returned to the WaterFire festival in Providence. We partnered with RIDE to celebrate student success stories, teacher accomplishments, and community engagement.

XQ hosted the RI+XQ Teacher’s Lounge on the Washington Place Bridge to celebrate the tremendous work of Rhode Island’s educators. Teachers shared their insights and ideas about rethinking high school, and the community shared what “future-ready” means.