The Education Blog

The Education Blog is written by Elisabeth Harrison, Education Reporter and Morning Edition Host for Rhode Island Public Radio. Harrison’s work ranges from reporting on institutions like Brown University and the University of Rhode Island to efforts to reform low performing public schools in Central Falls and Providence.

A group of Rhode Island College faculty and staff has sent a strongly-worded letter to state officials, warning that college President Nancy Carriuolo is taking RIC in the wrong direction. The letter comes as the State Council on Post Secondary Education conducts an annual personnel review for Carriuolo.

In the letter, 14 RIC faculty and staff members accuse Carriuolo of mismanaging the college and firing or reassigning employees who disagree with her.  

Elisabeth Harrison


Now that we have results from the first year of a new standardized test, designed specifically to measure progress on the Common Core, it is fascinating to see how Rhode Island students compare to other students who took the same test.

Like Rhode Island, all of the states I have looked at so far saw significant declines in proficiency rates after switching to PARCC, but some still outperformed students in Rhode Island. I should note that not all states have released PARCC data, and a more complete comparison will be available once they do.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island has more work to do to improve public schools. That’s according to State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner, responding to test scores from PARCC, the standardized test Rhode Island is now using to measure student achievement.

PARCC was designed to measure progress on the Common Core standards, which are now guiding teachers in the state's public schools.

Results from the first year of testing showed just a quarter of Rhode Island students met expectations for Math, and a little more than a third met expectations in English.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

PARCC uses the language of "students meeting or exceeding expectations," whereas NECAP used the term "proficiency." Whatever you want to call it, far fewer students meet the bar on PARCC.

Gaps remain large for urban students and students of color. In Providence only about 10 percent of students met the bar in Math. In East Greenwich and Barrington, it was closer to 60 percent. 

Alberto Hernandez/Creative Commons License

 Update:  The University of Rhode Island says it is in regular contact with study abroad programs to monitor the situation in Paris following a string of apparent terrorist attacks and maintain the safety of students. A total of 14 URI students were in Paris or other regions of France during the attacks on Friday night.

Thomas Pittman

Imagine serving as a soldier in Iraq, surviving, and then deploying to Afghanistan, with no trip home in between. U.S.Army Veteran Thomas Pittman did just that. As we honor the service of veterans on this Veterans Day, we bring you Pittman’s story, as part of our series "RI Veterans' Voices." 

Pittman served as a combat engineer in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He is currently pursuing a degree in social work at CCRI and Rhode Island College. 

Pittman served in the U.S. Army from 2008 through 2011. He spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's Nate Mooney, who produced this story. 

Erika Smith/FLICKR

Johnson & Wales University has purchased the property that housed the  troubled Club Karma on Richmond Street in Providence for $1.6 million, according to a statement from college spokeswoman Lisa Pelosi.

The university intends to use the property either to ``accommodate the university’s expanding academic programs or for student life services.’’

Club Karma was shut down last year by the city’s licensing board after two men were shot at the nightclub on January 25, 2014.

JWU Media Relations

Starting this month, Johnson & Wales students will have access to a full crime lab at the university’s criminal justice department. Work in the lab will be required for all students who major in criminal justice.

JWU spent some $650,000 outfitting a lab with the latest forensic microscopes and other technology so students can analyze fingerprints, blood spatter and other evidence. There’s also a re-enactment room, which Criminal Justice Department Chair Alison Goodrich likes to call “the murder room.”

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

In 1987, researchers in Finland began following tens of thousands of babies who were about to be born. In fact, they followed every child born in Finland that year, and they continue to follow them today. The study is known as the 1987 Finnish Birth Cohort Study. One of the key findings is that poverty for very young children can have lasting consequences.  Rhode Island College Graduate Tina Ristikari is one of the researchers who have been studying this data. She told Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison what the Ocean State can learn from it.


Representatives from 10 different cities head to Rhode Island this week to find out how Providence provides afterschool programs. They're interested in the Providence Afterschool Alliance, which coordinates bussing and activities for roughly 2,000 Providence students.

PASA works with nonprofits that provide a range of programs from art and music to science, math and sports. The group also works with city and school officials to serve roughly one-third of all Providence middle school students. In recent years, PASA has been expanding into high schools. 

Elisabeth Harrison

School resource officers, police officers who are embedded in public schools, have become commonplace in Rhode Island. But the practice is under new scrutiny after a controversial incident in South Carolina, where an officer dragged a high school student from her chair, flipping the student and her desk onto the floor in the process.

In Burrillville, Officer David Beauchemin takes what I would describe as a community policing approach to the district's five public schools.

Elisabeth Harrison

Five years after lawmakers approved a formula to determine state aid to school districts, Governor Gina Raimondo is calling for a review  of the system. 

Raimondo has convened a panel of more than two dozen lawmakers, businesspeople, school leaders and others to study the way the state distributes money to elementary and secondary schools.

Questions for the panel include funding for charter schools, special education services and the overall effectiveness of K-12 spending, which is the second largest piece of the state budget.

Elisabeth Harrison

The search committee seeking a superintendent for Rhode Island's largest school district has scheduled a series of public meetings to gather input from residents.

Organizers said the forums will focus on a job description for the Providence superintendent and discussion of the major issues the district faces.

Milken Family Foundation

Kendra Borden, a Pawtucket junior high school English teacher is Rhode Island's winner of the 2015 Milken Educator Award.

Borden received the award in a ceremony at Slater Junior High School on Wednesday, where state education officials described her as a dedicated, urban teacher with a positive influence on  students and teachers.

David Silverman/

In a strikingly personal statement on, Bulldogs' Assistant Men's Basketball Coach Chris Burns describes what it was like to conceal his identity for many years. The former Bryant basketball player writes that he finally decided to come out in June, following the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.