Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Students head to classrooms this week in the annual back-to-school ritual. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says this should be the year our public schools embrace teaching history and civics.

John Bender

Rhode Island's new Education Commissioner Ken Wagner officially begins his tenure on Saturday, August 1st, although he is not expected in the office until Monday.

The Rhode Island Department of Education says his first day on the job will include meetings with students, parents and teachers. Wagner is also expected to meet with his new staff.

A former deputy education commissioner in New York State, Wagner has moved to Rhode Island with his family.

He succeeds Deborah Gist as Rhode Island's education chief.

With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist posting on Facebook that she has left her her job, who is in charge of the Rhode Island Department of Education?

Education leaders are raising concerns over the House Finance Committee’s proposed budget. The budget fully funds the state’s formula for providing education aid, but there’s no funding for school construction.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is pulling the plug on his embattled choice to become the state’s interim commissioner of higher education.

Chafee said Eva-Marie Mancuso is dropping her request for a state Ethics Commission waiver to move into the position. The waiver is needed since members of public boards are prohibited from accepting an appointment from a board of which they’re a member. Mancuso serves as chairwoman of the state Board of Education and will remain in that post.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said parents in schools receiving a low rating should seek answers into how those schools are going to improve.

Twenty-eight schools received the lowest ratings, many of them were in Providence. The education department said the rating system is designed to identify warning signs and to help schools improve. Gist said while it takes years to turn a school around, parents should be concerned about a low-performing school.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

One day after releasing a report showing that African Americans in the state are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is out with a report showing a racial disparity in school suspensions. 

The civil rights group stopped short of calling it racial profiling, but says the issue is something education leaders need to study and correct.

Here’s the Rhode Island Department of Education’s newly minted tool for comparing school performance.

The website graphs both proficiency rates on annual state tests of English and Mathematics and individual score changes from one year to the next. Education officials call it “the Rhode Island Growth Model Visualization Tool.”

Starting next year, the state will start keeping track of growth data for individual teachers and classrooms.