Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has turned down a request from students for a public debate over high stakes testing. The invitation came from the Providence Student Union, a student advocacy group operating in Providence Public Schools.
The group plans to hold a protest vigil at the Department of Education with candles, dirges and other symbols of mourning. Organizers say the demonstration is meant as a “tongue in cheek display of mourning for the expected ‘death’ of Education Commissioner Gist’s reputation.”
There’s a meaty agenda on tap this week at the State Board of Education. The group is scheduled to vote Thursday on a controversial proposal to allow police to carry guns on state college campuses. The board is also scheduled to vote on adopting new science standards and consider a contract extension for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist.
Rhode Island’s two teachers’ unions are holding a forum for teachers to discuss their dissatisfaction with new policies in the state’s public schools.
Teachers have complained about the pace of changes under State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, and they are particularly concerned about new annual teacher evaluations, which include test scores as one measure of teacher effectiveness. The teachers have asked the state to slow down implementation of the evaluations, saying they are time consuming and need adjustment.
Rhode Island is one of 26 states that have promised to consider new science guidelines known as the Next Generation Science Standards. The standards were developed by the same organization that created the Common Core, a group of national standards many states including Rhode Island are now adopting for Math and English.