education

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

(more…)


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)


RI Student Loan Authority may reduce payments for startups

August 15th, 2013 at 11:09 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Ruth Simon reports for The Wall Street Journal:

The rising mountain of student debt, recently closing in on $1.2 trillion, is forcing some entrepreneurs to abandon startup dreams and others … to radically reshape their business plans. [...]

At least one state has taken steps to alleviate the pressures. California this year enacted legislation that will reduce college costs for middle-class Californians who attend its public universities.

Similarly, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, a quasigovernmental nonprofit group, is looking at whether it is feasible to temporarily forbear or reduce payments for recent graduates who start a businesses or go to work for a new venture. The aim is to give recent graduates “the opportunity to try working for a startup or creating a startup instead of having to run off to Arizona and start working for Intel,” says Charles P. Kelley, RISLA executive director.

The R.I. Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is one of Rhode Island’s two quasi-public agencies that deal with student loans, along with the R.I. Higher Education Assistance Authority (RIHEAA). RISLA issues bonds to provide direct financing to students, while RIHEAA guaranteed loans under the pre-2010 federal student-loan program. Charles Kelley leads both agencies, and Treasurer Gina Raimondo serves on both boards.

As of June 2012, RISLA had $566 million in outstanding bonds and $913 million in outstanding student loans.

Update: For a critique of the WSJ article’s premise, read Jordan Weissmann on TheAtlantic.com.


Judge orders Board of Education to discuss NECAP in public

August 6th, 2013 at 5:59 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered the R.I. Board of Education to make part of an informational retreat scheduled for later this month open to the public or not discuss the matter at all.

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Chafee withdraws Mancuso nomination for commissioner

July 30th, 2013 at 4:40 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – R.I. Board of Education Chairwoman Eva Marie Mancuso will not serve as interim commissioner of higher education after all.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Tuesday he and Mancuso agreed to withdraw the nomination after good government groups questioned whether the appointment would violate a state policy that forbids officials from accepting an appointment or election that requires approval from the same board of which they are a member for one year.

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Mancuso résumé lacks experience of most US college leaders

July 19th, 2013 at 1:11 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s controversial nominee to oversee Rhode Island’s public colleges is defending her qualifications for the high-profile job despite lacking the same background in education as most of her would-be peers nationally.

A WPRI.com analysis of the résumés of every higher education commissioner – or equivalent official – across the country shows the majority of officials at the helm in their respective states have spent most of their careers in the education field.

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• Related: Watch Newsmakers with RI Education Board Chairwoman Eva Marie Mancuso (April 7)


Board seeking ethics waiver to give Mancuso $200K job

July 15th, 2013 at 11:44 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI)  – The R.I. Board of Education will seek a special waiver from the state Ethics Commission in order to appoint its chairwoman Eva Marie Mancuso to a $200,000-a-year job as the interim commissioner of higher education, Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office said Monday.

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House, Senate oppose NECAP graduation requirement

July 3rd, 2013 at 5:42 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) –  Hours before wrapping up the legislative session, lawmakers overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to the controversial graduation mandate that requires students to show “partial proficiency” on the state’s New England Common Assessment Program test.

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10% of schools ranked low-performing; most in Providence

July 2nd, 2013 at 10:18 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The R.I. Department of Education on Tuesday unveiled a list of more than two dozen low-performing schools that will be targeted for intense interventions aimed at increasing student achievement levels over the next several years.

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RI undecided on applying for teacher evaluation waiver

June 25th, 2013 at 9:37 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island would be allowed to postpone a key component of its controversial teacher evaluation policy under a waiver plan introduced last week by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Groups file petition to end NECAP graduation requirement

June 24th, 2013 at 12:41 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than a dozen community groups on Monday formally asked the R.I. Board of Education to rescind the controversial policy that requires high school students to score “partially proficient” on the state’s standardized test.

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Watch Newsmakers: Education Commissioner Deborah Gist

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


Gist: State officials visited troubled Birch school in 2012

June 14th, 2013 at 5:16 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said the state recommended that changes be made at the Birch Vocational School in Providence a year before a federal investigation found it was operating a so-called “sheltered workshop” for developmentally disabled students.

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• Related: State, city reach settlement over Birch School violations (June 13)


Controversial NECAP test will have cost RI $48M by 2017

June 14th, 2013 at 5:13 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When Rhode Island stops paying for the New England Common Assessment Program test in 2017, it will have spent more than $48 million over the course of 14 years on the controversial exam that is now tied to a high school diploma, WPRI.com has learned.

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• Related: 40% of 11th-graders in RI in danger of not graduating (Feb. 14)


City tried to fire Birch principal in April

June 12th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The high school principal at the center of a months-long federal investigation into the violation of disabled students’ civil rights was on the cusp of being fired in April before an outpouring of support saved his job.

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• Related: Federal probe finds civil rights violated at Providence school (June 11)


Federal probe finds civil rights violated at Providence school

June 11th, 2013 at 7:56 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Tim White

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Providence school that caters to developmentally disabled students allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act for years by making students work manual labor for little or no pay and acting as a “pipeline” to a similar program once they graduated, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

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