Board of Education

The state Department of Education is postponing for one year the inclusion of NECAP test scores in a teacher’s evaluation. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said there was not enough clarity on how the test was being used to assess teacher effectiveness.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

The state Board of Education returns to Rhode Island College Monday for the second day of a two-day retreat.  The meeting is aimed at educating board members about key topics that will be surfacing over the coming months. Initially they didn’t want to hold it in public.

A Harvard researcher, a former Massachusetts education official and a testing company founder are among the experts slated to address high-stakes testing at the Rhode Island Board of Education this weekend. The board is holding a two-day retreat as it faces calls to reconsider a controversial policy linking test scores to a high school diploma.  

The Rhode Island Board of Education will address two recent controversies in a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The board is planning to vote on Governor Lincoln Chafee’s pick for a new Interim Higher Education Commissioner. The candidate, Department of Education Chief of Staff Clark Greene, was named only after Education Board Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso stepped aside as a candidate herself, because of ethics questions.

A judge has ruled the Rhode Island Board of Education's plan to hold a closed-door retreat violates the state’s Open Meetings Act. The ruling, issued Tuesday, says the public must be allowed to attend a portion of the retreat which will address a controversial high school graduation policy.

At issue is the use of test scores from the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, as a requirement for a high school diploma. The board had planned to gather information about the rule behind closed doors, at a two-day retreat scheduled for later this month.

A judge has ordered the Rhode Island Board of Education to open up a portion of what was supposed to be a retreat closed to the public.

The board had planned to hear about requiring NECAP test scores for graduation at a closed retreat later this month.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued saying the closed retreat violated the Open Meetings Act.

After hearing arguments for almost two hours, Judge Daniel Procaccini issued a preliminary injunction, allowing the public to hear the portion of the retreat discussing NECAP testing.

Lawyers from the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will be in court Tuesday for a hearing as they try to block the State Board of Education from holding a retreat that’s closed to the public.

The ACLU claims the retreat violates the state’s open meetings act. The group has asked a judge for a temporary restraining order to stop the two-day retreat, scheduled for August 25th and 26th.

file / RIPR

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to keep the state’s Board of Education from holding a retreat that’s closed to the public.

The upcoming retreat will feature presentations on high stakes testing. It will be closed to both the media and the public. Rhode Island ACLU chapter executive director Steve Brown said that undermines the state’s open meetings laws.

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.

The lawsuit filed against the Rhode Island Board of Education by the American Civil Liberties Union does not address the merits of a new test-based graduation requirement, focusing instead on a procedural issue. The ACLU’s local director, Steve Brown, said he is still hoping the board will reconsider the testing policy and move to reverse it.

The complaint alleges the board failed to properly respond to a petition from the ACLU and several other groups seeking to stop the policy, which requires students to show partial proficiency on tests of Math and English to earn a diploma.

Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy said it’s thrilled the state’s Board of Education has renewed its charter for another five years. The charter school will operate three schools in the coming school year, serving students in Lincoln, Cumberland, Central Falls and Pawtucket. Blackstone Valley Prep’s Jen LoPiccolo said the Board of Education cleared the way for expansion of up to seven schools.

The State Board of Education put off a vote Monday night on Governor Lincoln Chafee’s recommendation of attorney Eva-Marie Mancuso for State Commissioner of Higher Education. The delay followed warnings from Common Cause Rhode Island that the appointment would constitute an ethics violation.

file / RIPR

Common Cause Rhode Island is urging Gov. Lincoln Chafee to withdraw his nominee for interim higher education commissioner. The governor has tapped the chair of the Board of Education for a job overseen by the board she leads.

Common Cause has asked Governor Lincoln Chafee to withdraw his recommendation of attorney Eva-Marie Mancuso for interim state commissioner of higher education.

Mancuso is currently chair of the State Board of Education, and Common Cause says that should bar her from consideration. The good-government group cites ethics rules that prohibit state board members from taking paid positions within the agencies they oversee.

file / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is recommending that the chair of the state Board of Education give up that position to become the state Commissioner of Higher Education. The appointment would be full time, but only temporary while the board conducts a search for a permanent commissioner.

The governor said he chose board chair Eva-Marie Mancuso because he believes higher education needs full time leadership at this time.

Mancuso says she is thrilled at the chance to lead the state office of higher education, a post with a $200,000 salary.

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