Although Rhode Island public schools have experienced modest achievement gains in past years, Ocean State children remain largely unprepared to compete with their peers in the U.S. and across the world.
For instance, just 77 percent of Rhode Island’s students from the 2007 cohort (class of 2011) graduated from high school, and only 43 percent of Rhode Islanders between the ages of 25 and 34 have a two-year associate degree or higher. Rhode Island is ranked 26th out of 42 states for its public charter school laws.
And just one-third of all Rhode Island eighth-graders are on grade level in both math and reading. Those numbers are even worse for our low-income students and students of color: in reading, low-income eighth-graders are 26 percentage points behind their wealthier peers and Latino eighth-graders are 27 percentage points behind their white peers.
On the other hand, the results of the 2011 National Assessment for Educational Progress reveal that student achievement in Rhode Island is up since 2009, suggesting that initial reform efforts by Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and other leaders are beginning to translate into results for kids. These gains are reflected in:
Rhode Island’s standing as one of a few states in the country to improve in both fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics since 2009.
Our teacher evaluation system, which by the 2013-2014 school year will have a major portion of scoring based on student learning and growth, along with professional practice and responsibilities.
We knew that Rhode Island had the momentum—and the potential—to lead our country with smart policies that transform entire systems. That’s why we made Rhode Island home to our first state campaign. Because comprehensive, lasting change requires diehard advocates willing to stand up for kids year after year.
Learn more about how RI-CAN’s work has translated into better policies and better schools for Rhode Island kids.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, RI-CAN has grown from a promising idea into a powerful movement, with more than 10,000 RI-CAN members across the state demanding change and dozens of authoritative research and policy reports and briefs that have grounded the conversation in the facts. Along the way, RI-CAN also started important conversations about reforming school staffing policies, removing obstacles for implementing proven strategies in all of our schools and funding for charter school buildings so they can be on equal footing with the rest of the system.
In March 2013, RI-CAN announced its latest campaign under the leadership of Executive Director Christine Lopes: Modern Funding for Modern Schools. Learn more here.
Rhode Island needs modern funding to have modern schools. This year, RI-CAN urges lawmakers to make two investments that will help all of our schools—and the students they serve—modernize: 1) enable all districts to provide full-day kindergarten and 2) continue implementing the new school funding formula.