Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Children who know more words tend to do better in school, and that has some researchers wondering whether early language may offer a key to closing the achievement gap. That’s why Providence has launched Providence Talks, with millions of dollars from the Bloomberg Foundation. The program hopes to boost children’s vocabularies by teaching parents to be chattier with their babies and toddlers.

Data from a pilot study due out Monday shows promise. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison went on a home visit with a Providence Talks coach, to see how the program works.

John Bender / RIPR

In an effort to keep more college graduates in Rhode Island, Roger Williams University is making some changes. The university is preparing to open a $10 million campus in downtown Providence, at the former site of 38 Studios and a marine center in Bristol.

Rhode Island is 7th in the nation for children’s healthcare coverage. That’s according to 2014 numbers from the U.S. Census.  It’s a big jump from last year, when Rhode Island was 16th.

Today, nearly 97 percent of Rhode Island children have health insurance, up from about 94 percent in 2013. Elizabeth Burke-Bryant of the advocacy non-profit Rhode Island Kid’s Count said the leap can be partly attributed to a major PR push to get people insured, under Obamacare.

Elisabeth Harrison

The Federal Department of Education has given the go ahead to Rhode Island's plan to address inequities in the distribution of highly-qualified teachers and principals.

In creating the plan, the State Department of Education conducted a study, which found that high poverty, high minority schools are the most likely to have inexperienced teachers and principals on staff. The study also found that middle schools have the highest percentage of inexperienced teachers. 


Newport teachers wrapped up two days of training Thursday before the new school year starts after Labor Day. But their contract talks remain at an impasse. National Education Association of Rhode Island President Larry Purtill said there is still time to return to the bargaining table.

“Right now there’s nothing formally set up or any formal discussion but I would hope that would take place very quickly,” said Purtill.

The main sticking point is a contract provision that provides extra pay when class sizes go over the limit.

Wikimedia Commons

Students in Newport will learn tips during the new school year on how to stay out of harm’s way when they walk and bike to school.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

A group of local science teachers got to see science in action aboard a research cruise this summer. They worked with scientists from the University of Rhode Island.

taylor.a/creative commons license

The University of Rhode Island has won $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to launch a graduate center focused on science writing.

The program will include workshops and classes to train students in the sciences  to write more clearly and persuasively. University officials said the program is part of a trend on college campuses, as researchers increasingly recognize the importance of communicating beyond academia.

In a unanimous vote, the Coventry School Committee has adopted a resolution calling for the reversal of a new HPV vaccine requirement.

The resolution asks Governor Gina Raimondo to reconsider the rule, which requires incoming seventh graders to be vaccinated against HPV.

The committee voted after several of its members commented that parents are angered by the mandate. In a video posted on YouTube, a member of the audience expressed similar sentiments.

Elisabeth Harrison

A judge has declined to stop a new charter school from opening in Woonsocket. City officials sought an injunction to block RISE Prep, a special type of charter school called a Mayoral Academy. They argued it would take taxpayer money away from local schools. Rhode Island Mayoral Academies Spokeswoman Katelyn Silva disagrees.

“If there are small areas where we can tweak the funding formula to feel more equitable on all sides we are behind that 100 percent,” said Silva. “Until then, I do think that money follows the child is the fairest way to fund public education.”

Local Programs Aim To Stop The 'Summer Slide'

Aug 26, 2015
Katherine Doherty / RIPR

Students are about to return to their classrooms after a long summer break. One thing their teachers are all wondering: how much did they forget over the vacation?

taylor.a/creative commons license

Rhode Island will get $45,248 in federal funding to help low-income students take Advanced Placement exams.

The U.S. Department of Education announced a round of grants for more than 30 states on Wednesday. Connecticut,  Massachusetts and New Hampshire were also among the states receiving funding.

The grant amounts were based on state estimates of how many AP tests would be taken by low-income students. Federal officials said the program is intended to pay for all but $12 of the cost of each test, although states can require students to pay more.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island’s New Education Commissioner Ken Wagner started work this week with a visit to a public school in Providence. He stopped by Rhode Island Public Radio to talk about test scores and the state of Rhode Island Public Schools with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.

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.