RI Foundation’s Steinberg Defends New Ten-Year Approach to Fixing Education in State
Saturday, December 08, 2018
drastically trailing their Massachusetts counterparts -- and defended the group's ten-year strategic vision in response to Rhode Island's poor performing schools.
In the recent comprehensive assessments taken by students in the two states, approximately twice as many students in Fall River, Massachusetts met or exceeded expectations than students in Johnston, Rhode Island, as one example of the glaring discrepancy in performance.
While Rhode Island leaders including Gary Sasse and Saul Kaplan called for an education "state of emergency," Steinberg said that it will take time to implement necessary changes in Rhode Island.
"First of all, we’re not going to interfere with people that want to make improvements [for students] today. So we don’t want to ignore the eight-year-old and we don’t want to ignore the senior in high school," said Steinberg of the group's approach to meet over the next six months and then present a report with a ten-year plan in June.
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"The leaders have to do what they have to do, and the reason is that we don’t stay the course. Every time there’s a new administration, there’s a new commissioner, there’s new leadership in the legislature we change direction," said Steinberg. "We’ve all got to get on the same page what do we want to achieve. So that’s the goal [with a ten-year plan] — and then work back."
Steinberg spoke to the group working with Dr. David Driscoll, the Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts in 1993 who along with Governor Weld implemented what he said were the key changes to the state's educational success.
“If he were standing here he’d say two things — high standards and stay the course," said Steinberg.
RI Foundation at Helm
"We’re the largest funder to the nonprofits. We’ve been funding education and we’ve been leading different initiatives in education for a long time and it was clear were just weren’t making progress," said Steinberg. "I object [when people say the RICAS results] are a wake-up call. It’s not, it’s a validation of what we’ve known."
"So what we wanted to do was instead of the pop-up programs, the flavors of the moment, what's going on in the next six months is we're getting the group together look out — where do we want to be, where does Rhode Island want to be, in providing the best education we can for our students ten years from now -- then look at the top five or six things we need to do, big picture," said Steinberg.
Why Can’t RI Just Use Massachusetts Blueprint?
"It’s probably not as easy as it sounds. [Driscoll] wrote a book called "Commitment to Common Sense Reform in Massachusetts' about what they did. I read the book and I skipped to the back looking for the answer," said Steinberg. "He’d be the first one to say it’s worth looking at the blueprint and it’s working picking what you can follow. They’re the first ones to say they’re not perfect."
"So they have achievement gaps — OK, we’ve had the highest Latino achievement gap in the United States for the last five years. So they have achievement gaps, just theirs are up ‘here’ and ours are down ‘here.’ So they’re not perfect," said Steinberg. "They have funding challenges. So what we want to do is study it, look at the playbook and see what are the best parts, which ones of the parts can work and then [Driscoll] will say it takes a few years to implement."
How Can Group of Current Stakeholders That Got RI Where It Is Think “Outside the Box” and Create Success?
"It’s the age-old question," said Steinberg "So you know you want to have new thinking in new people but [they’re] still the ones in charge to make the change. So you try and be a little more positive on this as a legacy issue, so if you’ve been doing this for 25 years, let’s get it right, let’s get the collective, going around talking to everybody individually. It’s a little like Middle East shuttle diplomacy."
Members of the committee include: Kathy Bendheim (Impact for Education); Elizabeth Burke Bryant (Rhode Island Kids Count); Victor Capellan (superintendent of Central Falls schools); Jeremy Chiappetta (Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy); Barbara Cottam (R.I. Board of Education); Tom DiPaolo (Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association); David Driscoll (former Massachusetts commissioner of education); Tim Duffy (Rhode Island Association of School Committees); Frank Flynn (Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals); Tom Giordano (Partnership for Rhode Island); Christopher Graham (Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce); Julie Horowitz (Feinstein School of Education and Human Development); Dolph Johnson (Hasbro); Susanna Loeb (Annenberg Institute for School Reform); Elizabeth Lynn (van Beuren Charitable Foundation); Keith Oliveira (R.I. League of Charter Schools); Pegah Rahmanian (Youth in Action); Don Rebello (Rhode Island Association of School Principals); Anthony Rolle (URI); Ken Wagner (R.I. education commissioner); and Robert Walsh (National Education Association Rhode Island).
Related Slideshow: 2017-2018 RICAS Math Rankings for “Meeting or Exceeding Expectations”
The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) released performance results on November 29, 2018 for students in grades 3 through 8 on the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System, or RICAS. The 2017-2018 school year was the first year of implementation for the RICAS, which is the Rhode Island administration of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), the assessment tool of the nation’s highest-performing state for public education.
Data was suppressed to "ensure confidentiality" for Urban Collaborative, the RI School for the Deaf, and Trinity Academy for Performing Arts because greater than 95% of students did not meet expectations; data was suppressed to "ensure confidentiality" for DCYF because the minimum reporting size of ten was not met.
Below are the rankings of school districts -- and charter schools -- with the data provided by RIDE.
Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy
Students Meeting or Exceeding Expectations:
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