Deborah Gist

John Bender / RIPR

Ken Wagner is Governor Gina Raimondo’s nomination for education commissioner. The post has been open since former commissioner Deborah Gist left for a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wagner comes to the Ocean State from the New York state education department.

Wagner got his start in education policy at age 18, when he was elected to a local school board in New York. Since then, his education career includes working as school psychologist and middle school principal. 

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?

Steve Nardelli, executive director of the R.I. League of Charter Schools, is retiring at the end of June. His post will be assumed by Timothy Groves, former development officer at the R.I. Foundation.

Nardelli has had a long career in Rhode Island education circles, serving as a public school teacher and coach. He was executive director of legislative relations at the Rhode Island Department of Education, where he carved a reputation as an effective Statehouse lobbyist.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Students in Rhode Island will take shorter standardized tests next year. 

The multi-state governing board that oversees the so-called PARCC tests, voted Wednesday to shorten testing by about 90 minutes. The change comes following criticism from teachers over the lengthy nature of the test.

The number of babies born with exposure to opioid drugs and alcohol nearly doubled in Rhode Island between 2006 and 2013. 

That’s one of the more startling facts in the new Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. Executive Director Elizabeth Burke-Bryant said unlike earlier drug problems, this one is not concentrated in urban areas.

“90 percent of babies born with drugs in their system, were born to white mothers and 32 percent lived in the four core cities, which means the majority of these cases are spread to the rest of Rhode Island,” said Bryant.

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