Deborah Gist

The State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote tonight on new rules for high school graduation.

The proposal would finalize a delay in the use of of standardized test scores for a diploma until 2020.

Test scores were supposed to become a requirement last year, but state lawmakers voted to pause the rule until 2017 after an outcry from some students, teachers and community groups. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist then proposed extending the delay until 2020.

December has come and gone, along with the deadline for the State Board of Education to give notice of its intent to renew the contract for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.

The current contract, which expires in June, contains a six-month notification requirement if the board plans to renew. State Department of Education Spokesman Elliot Krieger says the state can still retain Gist, if the board chooses to negotiate a new contract.

Governor-Elect Gina Raimondo has no immediate plans to hire a new commissioner for K-12 education.

Current Commissioner Deborah Gist has been controversial because of her support for testing as a requirement for high school graduation and teacher evaluations.

Raimondo says she’s in no hurry to make a decision about Gist.

"She’s doing a great job," Raimondo said last week. "Her contract’s not up until the end of June, so there’s really no urgency to move on that one in particular."

Elisabeth Harrison

New test results show just 23 percent of Rhode Island 8th graders scored proficient or better in science,  a decline of seven percentage points from last year.

Some individual schools and districts also saw steep declines in their scores.

Education officials held off on releasing the results of the NECAP Science test while experts conducted an independent review of the test and the scoring. 

But in the end, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said they found no evidence this year's test was more difficult than last year.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island is getting $2.3 million to help expand the state’s public preschool programs.  There are already 17 up and running.