Barrington Middle School



Barrington, RI | Grades 6-8 | 792 Students | 72 Teachers

Barrington Middle School’s big idea as a Lighthouse School is to make experiential learning visible, feeding into the district-wide vision of a PK-12 continuum of deeper learning. Their work in 2017-2018 focused on coaching, embedded support, and resources for every BMS teacher to be able to implement one Project Based Learning opportunity aligned to Barrington Public School Deeper Learning pillars, thus engaging 100% of teachers and 100% of students in experiential learning.

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Coaching and support at BMS has an emphasis on developing teacher leadership to sustain and build capacity. From September to February, three cohorts of teachers each went through a six-week coaching term including:

  • Project tuning

  • Classroom visits

  • Evaluating student work

It’s that journey piece. We want students to be reflective along the way. We want them to be aware of where they are in the learning process, what they’re doing well, and what opportunities they have to improve in the future.”
— Dr. Andrew Anderson, Principal

Progress to Date 


In response to questions about how attentive and invested students are in school on SurveyWorks, the annual statewide culture and climate survey, students at BMS reported an increase in favorable responses from Spring 2017 to Spring 2018. This increase was statistically significant for 6th and 7th grade students, in particular.

  • When asked: How excited are you about going to your classes?, 22% of students responded favorably, a 3-percentage point increase from Spring 2017.

  • When asked: When you are not in school, how often do you talk about ideas from your classes?, 23% of students responded favorably, a 5-percentage point increase from Spring 2017.


Percentage of students who were chronically absent from SY16-17 and SY17-18

Schoolwide attendance rate increased and chronic absence rate decreased from SY16-17 to SY17-18. A similar change in chronic absence rate is also seen across students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and special education students.



Schoolwide Math and Reading assessments at the Beginning and End of SY16-17 increased for Beginning and End of SY17-18, respectively.

Effect sizes from the Beginning to the End of the year in SY16-17 and SY17-18 also show statistically significant differences schoolwide and by grade.

Lessons & Learnings

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Building Buy-In with Teacher Collaboration

Teacher buy-in for the shift to project-based learning was generally positive as teachers were excited to have more voice and agency. While there was no push-back, there were concerns about what might happen to test scores with this shift. To quell teachers’ fears, the school encouraged more collaboration, welcoming teachers who were less confident in planning to partner up with those with more experience.

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Working Around Traditional Metrics

While BMS has met some goals around student outcomes, there are concerns over demonstrating student achievement through traditional metrics. As a school that has historically done well to meet or exceed expectations on traditional metrics, they feel heavily invested in those. But they are developing rubrics to measure deeper learning in order to track progress towards goals in their new model.

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Community Messaging Challenges

BMS encountered difficulty with communicating the switch from a traditional educational model to an innovative, personalized model, being unsure of how parents would react:

“I think that's probably our biggest obstacle overall, is to be able to communicate to people and show people and help build trust and faith that the reason why we're doing this is because it's good for kids.” -BMS Administrator

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