Eva-Marie Mancuso

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Big changes are in the offing for Rhode Island public education policy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what’s at stake.

After six years as Rhode Island’s top education guru, education commissioner Deborah Gist is headed to her native Tulsa to become school superintendent. Eva-Marie Mancuso, chairwoman of the state education board, is out. Barbara Cottam is slated to become the new leader of the board as Gov. Gina Raimondo puts her stamp on arguably the most important mission of government, educating  the young.

Chair of the state’s board of education said Tulsa is lucky to land Deborah Gist as its next superintendent of schools. Board chair Eva-Marie Mancuso calls Gist a forward thinker and someone easy to work with.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has gotten the votes to become Tulsa's superintendent of schools.

In a statement, Gist said it was a difficult decision, but she welcomed the opportunity to lead an urban school district.

She also noted that Tulsa is where her family lives.

"I know that Rhode Islanders can certainly recognize the attraction we have to our hometowns, and it would be a special honor for me to lead the district where I attended public school throughout my childhood," Gist wrote.

Average SAT scores are in for the class of 2014.

The good news is Rhode Island's average improved by 5 points in both reading and mathematics. The State Department of Education says this is the first time scores have improved significantly since 2009.

More than 6,000 public school students took the SAT in the 2013-2014 school year, scoring an average of 484 in mathematics and 483 in critical reading.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

It’s October, and that means students across Rhode Island are filling in bubbles on standardized tests. The annual use of testing in math and English has become a controversial tool for rating schools, and making decisions about high school diplomas, and it will soon be part of teacher evaluations too. One researcher who started out supporting standardized testing now says its part of the problem in public schools. Diane Ravitch has become one of the strongest voices in the national debate and she spoke at the University of Rhode Island last night.

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