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.

File: Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

R.I. state Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has confirmed that she is a finalist for the Superintendent of Schools post in her home city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Gist's statement came after the Tulsa World newspaper reported that she is a finalist for the post.

Elisabeth Harrison

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is reported to be a finalist in Tulsa’s search for a new superintendent of schools.

Tulsa World says multiple sources confirm that Gist is one of two finalists scheduled for interviews later this week. Tulsa’s current superintendent is stepping down at the end of June.


Brown University has sanctioned two fraternities, saying they created an environment that "facilitated sexual misconduct" by failing to monitor parties and failing to properly safeguard the service of alcohol.

Phi Kappa Psi will loose recognition for four years, including the loss of its housing, effective immediately.

Sigma Chi has been sanctioned with probation until fall 2016. The fraternity cannot sponsor social events, or conduct recruitment, rush, or initiation processes.

The Providence Journal reports this morning that standardized testing is not mandatory for Rhode Island students. While that is technically true, it is also true that Rhode Island has no official procedure for parents and students to opt out of annual testing, and parents may encounter significant resistance if they attempt to do so.

The answer is not necessarily, but sometimes, or it's complicated, according to a Boston Globe review of extended day programs in Boston schools.

While a few schools did see a rise in test scores after adding time to the school day, many others did not. Still others seemed to find that gains are difficult to maintain over time. A few schools have ended their extra hours or may do so in the future.

Elisabeth Harrison

Central Falls Superintendent of Schools Fran Gallo plans to retire at the end of the school year.

The school board says its members officially accepted her letter of resignation on Tuesday night.

"The Board accepted Dr. Gallo’s decision with deep regret and equally deep appreciation for her eight years of service to the children and families of Central Falls," the board said in a written release announcing that Gallo will step down on June 30th.

The State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote tonight on new rules for high school graduation.

The proposal would finalize a delay in the use of of standardized test scores for a diploma until 2020.

Test scores were supposed to become a requirement last year, but state lawmakers voted to pause the rule until 2017 after an outcry from some students, teachers and community groups. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist then proposed extending the delay until 2020.

Elisabeth Harrison

At the close of his first week as mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza has announced he wants Providence Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi to stay on for at least another 18 months.

Elorza describes Lusi as a well-qualified leader, who shares his goals for improving city schools.

"Dr. Lusi shares my vision of reforming the role of central administration and directing all available resources to our classrooms," Elorza said in a press release announcing the reappointment.

Education Week ranks Rhode Island 13th in the nation in its most recent Quality Counts report.

The survey  looks at several factors including school finance, student achievement and access to early childhood education.

Overall, Rhode Island gets a grade of C-plus, slightly higher than the national average. The state fared worse on student achievement earning a D-plus, slightly lower than the national average.

Massachusetts earned the number one spot in the rankings. Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont were also in the top 10.

December has come and gone, along with the deadline for the State Board of Education to give notice of its intent to renew the contract for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.

The current contract, which expires in June, contains a six-month notification requirement if the board plans to renew. State Department of Education Spokesman Elliot Krieger says the state can still retain Gist, if the board chooses to negotiate a new contract.

Alex Washburn/Wired

Cumberland has purchased tablet computers for all of its middle school students. The district tells Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison the new technology is changing classrooms in a big way.

Cumberland middle school principals say the traditional teacher-led class has been turned on its head since the district purchased Chromebooks for every sixth, seventh and eighth grader.

Students are doing more group work, and teachers act more like facilitators.

The Providence College Friars beat Creighton 65-53 in the start of Big East Conference play Wednesday. The men's overall record is now 11-3.

PC says this is the first time the Friars have won their conference season-opener since 2008.

Senior forward LaDontae Henton led the Friars with 35 points and 8 rebounds.

The game at the Dunkin Donuts Center was a re-match of last season's Big East championship, when PC beat Creighton 65-58. The win marked the Friars' first victory in the Big East in 20 years.

Researchers are collecting data on college students in Rhode Island and three other states, who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.

Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison reports the study is believed to be the first of it's kind, following hundreds of college students over a five-year period.

The study follows more than 400 college students in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Roughly half have been diagnosed with ADHD, the other half do not have attention issues.

Wondering what to do with your kids during the holiday break? They're home from school all day, and it's not really the season for a trip to the park.

Still, there are plenty of fun and educational opportunities to be found over the holidays. Here are a few suggestions to start things off.

Governor-Elect Gina Raimondo has no immediate plans to hire a new commissioner for K-12 education.

Current Commissioner Deborah Gist has been controversial because of her support for testing as a requirement for high school graduation and teacher evaluations.

Raimondo says she’s in no hurry to make a decision about Gist.

"She’s doing a great job," Raimondo said last week. "Her contract’s not up until the end of June, so there’s really no urgency to move on that one in particular."