Deborah Gist

The Education Blog
9:17 am
Tue August 26, 2014

A Reversal on High Stakes Testing?

Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is recommending more delays for a policy linking standardized test scores to a high school diploma. Gist says she now believes the policy should remain on hold until 2020.

The comments may come as a surprise after Gist championed the test-linked diploma for months despite increasing pressure from some students and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who said the policy was unfair to low-income students and students with disabilities.

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The Education Blog
9:16 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Gist: High Stakes Testing Moratorium Is A Delay

Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island's Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is not giving up on efforts to link test scores to a high school diploma. Gist says a new state law barring the practice until 2017 is a delay, but she is still expecting the policy to take effect three years from now.

"While I'm disappointed about this because I feel confident that we are where we need to be to carry this out, I understand the decision," Gist told RIPR during an in-depth interview. "We are going to take a little bit more time, but what we're not going to do is lower our sense of urgency."

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The Education Blog
6:31 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Governor Declines to Veto High Stakes Testing Moratorium

A bill halting a controversial test-based graduation requirement will become law without a signature from Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Chafee declined to sign the bill but also declined a veto.

The bill bars the use of standardized test scores for a high school diploma until at least 2017. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who opposed the bill, vowed to keep pushing school leaders to improve student performance.

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The Education Blog
8:52 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Chafee on Testing Bill: We're Looking at It

Governor Lincoln Chafee says he is still considering whether to sign a bill that halts a controversial policy linking test scores to high school diplomas.

"We're still looking at it and talking to advocates on both sides," Chafee told RIPR on Friday, as he signed a bill making calamari the state's official appetizer.

Supporters say students should have to demonstrate minimum skill levels in reading and writing before they are awarded diplomas. That was the reasoning behind the policy, which mirrors a similar rule in Massachusetts.

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The Education Blog
9:03 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Gist to Weigh in on High Stakes Testing Freeze

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has promised to make time in her schedule to discuss new developments at the General Assembly, including a bill that orders a halt to standardized testing as a requirement for a high school diploma.

Gist has advocated in favor of keeping the testing policy, which she says is will ensure that students graduate ready for the challenges they may face after high school. But lawmakers voted to halt the use of exit exams until at least 2017, citing concerns about students with disabilities, among other issues.

The Education Blog
6:58 am
Wed June 18, 2014

RIDE: Most Students Meet Graduation Requirements

The State Department of Education says roughly 95 percent of this year's high school seniors have met a controversial new graduation requirement involving test scores. Nearly 500 students met the requirement by getting a waiver from their school districts.

Most high schools have already held graduations, but RIDE says it does not have a final number for how many students were prevented from receiving diplomas because of the testing requirement. Education Commissioner Deborah Gist told RIPR students can still appeal graduation decisions.

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The Education Blog
11:56 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Gist Responds to Providence Graduation Waivers

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has declined to comment, at least in person, on Providence's waiver of the testing portion of the state's diploma system for roughly 200 seniors. She did provide the following written statement to RIPR, via email.

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The Education Blog
9:19 am
Wed May 28, 2014

House Approves Rollback of Teacher Evaluations

In a 68-3 vote, the Rhode Island House has approved a bill easing teacher evaluations for the vast majority of public school teachers.

The bill calls for teachers who earn effective or highly effective ratings to be evaluated just once every three to four years, instead of the current policy of annual reviews.

If the bill becomes law, new teachers and teachers with low evaluation ratings would still be evaluated on an annual basis.

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Education
8:51 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Senate Committee Hears Testimony On Bill That Could Eliminate High Stakes Testing

Credit 123 Flickr

The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hear testimony Wednesday on a bill that would ban test scores as a high school graduation requirement. A state policy requiring test scores has come under fire from critics, who say it is unfair to low income and minority students. But State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has been a strong supporter, arguing that it will ensure that no student graduates from a Rhode Island high school without basic knowledge of math and English.

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The Education Blog
8:49 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Opposition to the Common Core Grows in Rhode Island

Tad Segal, Barrington parent and anti-common core activist
Credit Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A trial run for the new standardized test known as the PARCC exam begins in Rhode Island next week. The test is slated to replace the annual NECAP in 2015, as public schools transition to a new set of standards called the Common Core.

A growing group of parents, teachers and others continue to raise questions about test and the Common Core. They are calling on Rhode Island lawmakers to stop the initiative in a movement that mirrors similar anti-Common Core efforts around the country.

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