education

Report: RI among best in US for ed ‘policy environment’

March 19th, 2014 at 6:13 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The nonprofit education advocacy group founded by controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee has ranked Rhode Island among the best states in the country for implementing policies it believes can improve student performance for the second consecutive year.

In its annual “State Policy Report Card” released this month, Sacramento, Calif-based StudentsFirst ranked Rhode Island No. 4 in the country for having the “right policy environment in place to best raise academic levels from where they are today.” The group gave the state a C+, behind only Louisiana, Florida and Indiana.

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Most gov candidates oppose NECAP, support testing

March 13th, 2014 at 7:28 am by under General Talk

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – All but one of Rhode Island’s major gubernatorial candidates have found something they agree on: The NECAP standardized test should not be part of the state’s high school graduation requirements.

Democrats Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell as well as Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung all said Tuesday they oppose tying results on the test to a high school diploma, but indicated they aren’t completely against the use of standardized testing in education.

Businessman Ken Block, who is challenging Fung in the Republican primary, said he supports the graduation requirements that are already in place, which include the use of the NECAP – short for the New England Common Assessment Program – for the classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016 before moving to another assessment beginning the following year.

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NECAP still part of graduation requirements through 2016

March 12th, 2014 at 4:32 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

Rhode Island schools may be transitioning to a new standardized test, but the NECAP is here to stay through the class of 2016.

That means that if your child is currently in the 10th grade, he or she will still be required to score at least a 2 (out of 4) on the math and English sections of the NECAP in order to be eligible for a diploma. (NECAP is short for the New England Common Assessment Program.)

Those who fail to earn a qualifying score during their junior year have the opportunity to retake the exam twice during their senior year and are eligible to take several alternate tests in order to meet the requirement. Students are also required to complete course work, as well as performance assessments such as a portfolio or senior project, to prove they are qualified to receive a diploma.

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ACLU: Too many minority students suspended

March 10th, 2014 at 1:11 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Minority students account for a disproportionate number of school suspensions compared with their white counterparts, according to a report released Monday by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

More than half of the approximately 16,000 out-of-school suspensions during the 2012-13 school year were issued to black and Hispanic students even though those students made up just 30% of Rhode Island’s total student population, according to the report.

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Prov students: Transportation policy spurs absenteeism

February 24th, 2014 at 12:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Through rain, sleet, snow and heat, they just want to get to school.

That was the message members of the Providence Student Union youth activist group sent early Monday morning when they gave policymakers and politicians a firsthand glimpse of just how far some students have to walk to school if they do not have bus pass.

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Improvement shown on NECAP test; goals not met

February 13th, 2014 at 6:35 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island students are posting improved test scores, but the state is still not meeting the majority of the goals it has set for closing the achievement gap for poor and minority students, state officials said Thursday.

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Providence superintendent concerned about grad requirement

January 31st, 2014 at 6:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The superintendent of Rhode Island’s largest school district said Friday she will advise school officials to automatically begin a high school graduation waiver process for students who have failed to show partial proficiency on the state’s standardized test.

Providence Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi said she expects to have a “huge list” of high school students still at risk of not graduating after the second round of testing and rather than forcing students to apply for a waiver individually, she wants administrators kick start the process.

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1,800 12th graders still at risk of not graduating

January 31st, 2014 at 12:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – At least 19% of the students who took the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) exam last year and are still enrolled in school remain at risk of not receiving a high school diploma, according to the latest round of test results released Friday.

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Gist delivers State of Education

January 30th, 2014 at 5:23 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than 70% of Rhode Island’s 12th graders scored at least “partially proficient” on the math and English sections of the state’s standardized test, leaving a significant number of students still at risk of not receiving a diploma, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said Thursday.

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Study: Poor performance on NECAP math tied to low college attendance

January 13th, 2014 at 6:54 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The overwhelming majority of Rhode Island students who received the lowest possible score on the math section of the state’s standardized test as 11th graders in 2008 never reached the third semester of college, according to a report presented to the state Board of Education Monday.

The report, prepared by the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) and nonprofit ProvPlan, shows that 74% of the 3,926 students who scored a 1 out of a possible 4 on the math portion of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) test in 2008 failed to reach their sophomore year of college, and more than half never pursued a postsecondary education at all.

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Report: RI school spending high, but achievement lags behind rival states

January 9th, 2014 at 3:07 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island spends generously on public schools, but still lags far behind the rest of New England when it comes to student achievement, according to a report released Thursday by Education Week, the nation’s preeminent publication for education news.

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RI Senate leaders want to scrap GED test for more affordable exam

January 8th, 2014 at 6:12 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – With the cost of taking the General Educational Development (GED) test double what it was a year ago, three of the state’s most powerful politicians are asking the state Board of Education to replace the assessment with a more affordable option for Rhode Islanders who do not have a high school diploma.

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74 undocumented students get in-state tuition; advocates push for state law

December 18th, 2013 at 1:07 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A year after undocumented students who attended high school in Rhode Island became eligible to receive in-state tuition, 74 students have enrolled at the state’s three public colleges, well-below the figure advocates estimated would take advantage of the policy.

All told, 71 undocumented students signed up for classes at the Community College of Rhode Island, two enrolled at the University of Rhode Island and one is attending Rhode Island College, according to a WPRI.com review of data provided by the state Office of Higher Education.

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Taveras misses national education event for fundraiser in Puerto Rico

December 12th, 2013 at 5:29 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence mayor and gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras was in Puerto Rico for a campaign fundraiser Thursday, the same day he was supposed to attend a meeting of mayors to discuss education in Sacramento, Calif.

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Board wants $2M for higher ed department; split governance plan

December 10th, 2013 at 2:24 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The R.I. Board of Education will ask state lawmakers to create a $2 million Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner to oversee higher education when the General Assembly returns to Smith Hill next month.

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Watch Newsmakers: LG hopeful Dan McKee; Food Bank CEO

December 1st, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Angel Taveras proposes universal pre-K for Rhode Island

November 26th, 2013 at 1:39 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping proposal to offer universal pre-kindergarten across Rhode Island, a plan that would require a massive expansion of state-funded early childhood education programs.

Taveras, a first-term Democrat who has already declared his candidacy for governor next year, said his goal would be to enroll 76% of Rhode Island children in pre-K by 2018, a plan he believes would cost the state approximately $24.6 million annually.

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Report: 34% of urban students in R.I. not graduating high school on time

November 25th, 2013 at 8:58 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Graduation rates in Rhode Island’s poorest communities are on the rise, but one in three students still aren’t completing high school on time, according to a policy brief released Monday by Rhode Island Kids Count, the state’s leading child advocacy group.

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Changes coming for struggling school reform org in Providence

November 22nd, 2013 at 4:28 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The future of the taxpayer-supported nonprofit created to oversee three low-performing Providence public schools is uncertain as district and union officials scramble to restructure an organization that has been mired in turmoil for the better part of a year.

United Providence (UP) was billed as a landmark school reform partnership between the school district and the city’s teachers union, but the nearly two-year-old agency has been without its top two staffers for several months while facing a “growing chorus of complaints from teachers,” according to a consultant’s report obtained by WPRI.com.

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Watch: Executive Suite with Brown President Christina Paxson

November 18th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes


Dozens protest proposed closure of Alvarez High School

November 12th, 2013 at 11:03 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A concerned and confused group of protesters spoke out Tuesday against a proposal to close Alvarez High School and reopen it as a middle school to make up for an unforeseen spike in enrollment in Providence public schools.

Dozens of elected officials, parents and high school students asked the Providence School Board to consider other options for addressing a projected 578-student increase in the city’s middle schools over the next three years during a hearing at the Providence Career and Technical Academy on Fricker Street.

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City wants to close Alvarez High School; reopen as middle school

October 29th, 2013 at 5:00 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of the city’s lowest-performing high schools would be converted to a middle school to cover a projected spike in six grade enrollment, under a plan proposed to the Providence School Board Monday evening.

Teachers at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, the Adelaide Avenue school that has been plagued by dismal NECAP scores and astronomical chronic absenteeism rates, were informed of the potential closure Monday afternoon.

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Former US ed official criticizes school reform in speech at URI

October 16th, 2013 at 5:10 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – The nation’s so-called school reform movement is built on a series of “hoaxes” that suggest charter schools, high-stakes testing and merit pay for teachers are the answer to turning around public education, a former assistant U.S. secretary of education told a crowd at the University of Rhode Island Tuesday evening.

During a speech at Edwards Auditorium, Diane Ravitch – whose public about-face on many of the education policies she once supported has made her one of the most famous school reform critics in the country – urged an audience comprised largely of teachers to “stop the machine” that she believes is unfair and based on “invalid measures.”

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Brown University, Lifespan renegotiating their med-school deal

October 14th, 2013 at 9:01 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Brown University and nonprofit hospital giant Lifespan have quietly started talks over the future terms of their partnership as Lifespan executives continue to deal with a major budget crunch, WPRI.com has learned.

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• Related: A rare down year at Lifespan, RI’s largest private employer (July 25)


Report: 95% of teachers highly rated; administrators disagree

October 11th, 2013 at 1:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The vast majority of Rhode Island teachers received high marks on their mandatory educator evaluations last school year, yet more than two-thirds of administrators admitted they gave a teacher a higher rating than they believed was warranted, a new report shows.

All told, 95% of the state’s 14,260 public school teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” during the 2012-13 school year while fewer than 1% of educators were labeled “ineffective,” a rating that could trigger a loss of certification if the teacher does not improve over the course of several years, according to a report released by the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE).

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Parents, teachers decry NECAP graduation requirement at forum

October 1st, 2013 at 5:53 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – As thousands of students across the state prepare to take the NECAP exam, parents, educators and elected officials gathered Monday to again call for state officials to scrap the controversial graduation requirement that ties a high school diploma to performance on the standardized test.

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Finance is driving economic growth in the Providence area

September 17th, 2013 at 2:02 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Five years after the financial crisis, Providence’s economic rebound is being driven by … finance.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its annual report on economic growth for the nation’s 381 metropolitan areas on Tuesday, and found that the Providence-Fall River-New Bedford metro economy grew 1.7% in 2012, with the total value of local goods and services last year pegged at $69.53 billion.

That’s a significantly faster pace of growth than the 0.3% increase that the Providence area eked out in 2011, though it still fell below the average growth of 2.5% for all metropolitan areas as well as the 2.3% growth in the Boston region for 2012.

One of the most interesting things about the report is what it tells us about what’s driving economic growth in the Providence region. In short: it’s not “meds and eds,” it’s finance and professional services.

Here’s a chart showing how many percentage points each sector added or subtracted to last year’s 1.7%:

Providence_metro_growth_2012_by_sector

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Taveras has teachers’ union, ed reform support as he eyes bid for governor

September 17th, 2013 at 1:31 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Just three years after a national labor leader accused Providence Mayor Angel Taveras of trying to “crush unions,” political analysts say the first-term Democrat’s hopes of becoming governor may hinge on how much support he wins from organized labor.

Taveras, who succeeded David Cicilline as mayor in 2011, is widely expected to jump into next year’s race for governor, where he’s likely to square off against General Treasurer Gina Raimondo in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who recently became a Democrat, announced earlier this month he won’t seek re-election.

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Watch Executive Suite: URI President David Dooley

September 16th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site


Becker: Here’s how to change the RI K-12 funding formula

August 26th, 2013 at 1:42 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Jason Becker, an education policy wonk and Twitter must-follow, helped design Rhode Island’s new education funding formula when he was at Brown University. Now he’s out with a long essay on his personal blog proposing a number of changes that could be made, and it’s well worth a read:

After a little over three years since its establishment, I think we are ready to tackle several additional aspects of state education funding in Rhode Island. One thing you may notice is that few of these ideas impact the original formula. Part of why that is comes from my aforementioned preference for a simple formula, and part is because these include some non-formula issues that were not pursued in 2010 in an effort to keep the focus on the main policy matters.

First, and perhaps the most consequential change that can be made to state funding, is the teacher pension fund payments. …

Second, I would make a slight change to the way that we fund charter schools. …

Third, we excluded all building maintenance costs from the base amount of state aid. … I would like to see the state contribute to the maintenance of buildings more directly. …

All of these changes will require an even greater state contribution to education aid, but these increases would be an order of magnitude lower than what it would take to increase the state aid to covering 50-60% of all education expenditures.

Read the whole thing here.

• Related: Becker: Woonsocket, not the state, failed to fund city schools (July 12, 2012)