public education

Elisabeth Harrison

Two experimental high schools scheduled to open in Providence this fall will be known as 360 High School and Evolutions High School.

Both schools will be located inside larger, existing high schools. Evolutions will be inside Mt. Pleasant High School, and 360 will be at Hope High School.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is praising the state’s Board of Education for approving new regulations that allow qualified students to do college-level coursework while they are still in high school.

The Governor had sought that approval, saying it is a step toward creating Prepare RI, the jobs plan initiative Raimondo has proposed to allow students to finish professional certifications or college degrees more quickly.

$1.3 million for this program is included in the governor’s proposed budget.

Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed a law allowing fewer school days in Rhode Island's public schools. The law requires any reduction in school days to be offset with an increase in class time. Still, supporters say, the move will provide more flexibility for school officials looking to reign in cost.

"We have to do anything we can to help schools stay on budget while still giving students the education they deserve,” said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Roger Picard, a Democrat representing Woonsocket and Cumberland in a written statement.

Charter Schools in Central Falls, Pawtucket and Cumberland will have $10 million to make building improvements, thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation is providing the money in the form of low or no-interest loans, to increase the number of charter schools seats available for Central Falls students.

The number of Rhode Island Families hoping to get their children into Charter Schools continues to increase, according to the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools. The group is reporting a 20 percent jump in applications for 2013 for a total of 7,900 applications, up from 6,500 applications in 2012.

State education officials plan to announce results from the latest round of state-wide standardized testing, unless a blizzard gets in the way. The Department of Education says Governor Lincoln Chafee and Education Commissioner Deborah Gist will release the numbers at the statehouse on Friday morning.

If the weather cooperates, we will soon know just how many high school juniors are at risk for not graduating, under a new state rule that requires a score of two or better on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) exam.

State education Commissioner Deborah Gist is slated to discuss Rhode Island’s controversial teacher evaluations during a panel discussion this morning at the Fordham Institute in Washington, DC, a conservative public policy think-tank.

Schools close as budgets stretch and buildings age

East Providence is closing Oldham Elementary School citing the high cost of upgrading the building. The district has faced serious deficits in the past, contributing to municipal financial woes. The Providence Journal reports that district officials Oldham would have needed an estimated $2 million in renovations to stay open. As a result of the closure, some students will be shifted to other schools.

State education officials are defending standardized testing as a graduation requirement starting with the class of 2014. Students opposing so-called "high stakes testing" staged a protest yesterday at the Statehouse.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist responded by saying her goal is to make sure students finish high school with the right skills for college or a career. If the testing rule took effect this year, 44 percent of seniors would be at risk for not graduating.

A group calling itself the Providence Student Union will ask for an end to high stakes testing this week. Starting with the class of 2014, Rhode Island students will not be allowed to graduate unless they get a score of "partially procficent" on the standardized test known as the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP).


Gist: Mandatory school safety plans unlikely

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist speaks directly to teachers about a controversial new evaluation system. The video first appeared on YouTube earlier this month.

More boys are dropping out of school than girls, and the disparity is greater in Rhode Island and Connecticut than anywhere else in the country, according to a new report from the Federal Department of Education.

School safety procedures dominate the agenda today at the State Senate Education Committee. Lawmakers say the discussion will feature State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, State Police Superintendent Col. Steven O'Donnell and officials from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.

The oversight hearing follows the shooting last month at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school that left 26 students and teachers dead.

Connecticut’s legislature is also slated to review school safety standards in the wake of the tragedy.

A new program at the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) pairs high school students with middle schoolers, on the theory that a mentoring relationship with an older student might discourage dropping out.

PASA organizers say they are focusing on 8th graders, who often face a tough road when they transition from middle school into high school. Just 66 percent of Providence students graduate from high school within four years.