Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said parents in schools receiving a low rating should seek answers into how those schools are going to improve.

Twenty-eight schools received the lowest ratings, many of them were in Providence. The education department said the rating system is designed to identify warning signs and to help schools improve. Gist said while it takes years to turn a school around, parents should be concerned about a low-performing school.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

One day after releasing a report showing that African Americans in the state are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is out with a report showing a racial disparity in school suspensions. 

The civil rights group stopped short of calling it racial profiling, but says the issue is something education leaders need to study and correct.

Here’s the Rhode Island Department of Education’s newly minted tool for comparing school performance.

The website graphs both proficiency rates on annual state tests of English and Mathematics and individual score changes from one year to the next. Education officials call it “the Rhode Island Growth Model Visualization Tool.”

Starting next year, the state will start keeping track of growth data for individual teachers and classrooms.