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Welcome to the Commissioner’s Corner

Posted by: Commissioner Deborah A. Gist on 4/2/2013

Welcome to the Rhode Island Department of Education’s (RIDE) new website and to the Commissioner’s Corner.  The Commissioner’s Corner is a space for me to share information on what’s happening in education in Rhode Island.  This is also a space where I want to hear back from you.  My hope is that this blog will be filled with lots of feedback and lively conversations. 

The entire team at RIDE worked diligently over the course of months to launch our new website, and we are very proud of the result.  Our goals for the new site include:

  • Making the experience quick and easy for user to find the information they seek
  • Offering ample opportunity for feedback
  • Making data accessible
  • Making difficult policies, mandates and initiatives understandable
  • Making sure the site supports the work of educators, and
  • Demonstrating the Rhode Islanders’ tax dollars are being invested wisely.

I want to know – how did we do?  This site is a living organism and it will feed off your input.  Please let us know what we got right – and what we still need to work on.  Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Finally, I encourage you to sign up for our new e-newsletter for important updates on Rhode Island education.  E-newsletters will be delivered right to your inbox.  It’s an easy and convenient way to stay up-to-date on news you can use.

Please take some time and explore our site.  I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.

Deborah A. Gist
Commissioner of Education

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james conte
I have reviewed the science and math questions for the 11th grade NECAP tests and can wholeheartedly say they are some of the easiest questions your test makers could have given. Some questions gave too much information while others gave what appeared to be not enough while still others the answer was staring the student right in their face. All needed just basic knowledge to solve. This knowledge would have been acquired in the 9th and 10th grades if the student passed their classes with ears open and had a standard retention span. I can understand why some adults, especially politicians and lawyers, that took the test, would not remember things like the area of a circle or a triangle. But those politicians and lawyers should not cast the remaining intelligent adults in the same light. I went through 12 years of Providence Public Scholls, 4 years at URI for a BS in Engineering and 1 year for an MS at Caltech on a full scholarship/teaching assistant. I paid attention and liked it!.
Sally Rodriguez
Ms. Gist, Thank you so much for tolerating all that you have and still remaining with those of us who want to better our children's education. I am a former teacher and grandmother of six, ages 12 - 7 and my daughters are going through the same thing I went through 30-35 years ago. Our children are capable of SO much more than what is being offered to them. One daughter moved out of state two years ago just because of this problem
and her children are attending public school. It is amazing to see what they are being offered in an easy going, relaxed manner. They are being challenged and love it. PLEASE continue to ask for higher standards. My family will probably not benefit by the time change comes but others will. We are trying an alternative to public education for this year but expect that we also will be moving to areas where our children will be helped to grow to their potential. I want you to know that there is tremendous support for you and your ideas.
Howard Sturim, MD
Dear Miss Gist. Please do not loose heart. You are trying very hard to move the bar in education and your work is valued. The teachers may resist the intrusion of change but it is important unless we want to continue to lower standards and turn out students that will fail in life. Keep up the good work and know that many of us are with you.
Joe Smith
Dear Commissioner Gist,

The new website is a definite improvement, especially in terms of ease of access and data finding.

I would though ask you take a serious look at the use of UCOA. Most districts are well into their FY 14 budget process, with many budgets already at the municipal level for adoption. You still have yet to post the FY 12 UCOA data. What is the value of such data if it can not be used in guiding resourcing decisions? Would assessment from say a 6th grade level curriculum be useful if you are already done with your 8th grade curriculum and you still had not seen the 6th grade data?

Please do not let perfect be the enemy of good. We need UCOA data *before* we get too deep into budget season. If you can't turn it around fast enough for the next budget cycle, it has no value except for longer term analysis.
John H Pond
Dear Deborah

Let me congratulate you for standing up for higher achievment levels and the testing to insure that the students have achieved them.

If a student desires to go on to college its essential that he or she has the skills that are necessary to go on to higher education and that the college will respect his of her diploma.

speaking from my experience as a trade school graduate and 25+ years experience as a machinist and tool and die maker I can speak from personal experience that the technical are vital for many of the better jobs in our economy.

Math, science, reading comprehension are not easy subjects but its essential that our students have a good understanding of them if they are to succeed in our technical world.

Finally I encourage you to stay the course. If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything.
Kenneth Berwick
Dear Commissioner Gist,
A longer school year and school day (with pre school) would be of great benefit to all public school students,especially urban area students. I would recommend a 200 day school year and a 7.5 hour school day. Students would be spending the equivalent of 60 extra days each year in the classroom. Time would be available at the end of each school day for remedial programs, enrichment programs and alternate pathways to learning programs.
The school year would consist of 8 cycles of 5 weeks of school followed by a week of vacation (Teachers and students need regular breaks to reduce stress). There would be 4 vacation weeks during the summer. The last two weeks in July and the first two weeks in August. Using this schedule, make up days due to snow (etc.) would not be necessary.
During the warm summer months, there would be 4 weeks of daily instruction in music, art and physical education for all students. All other subjects would be taught dur
Christopher Macri
Dear Ms. Gist,
I just wanted to let you know that you are awesome! You are not perfect but nobody is. You are exactly what ths state needs in an education commisioner and are doing a great job. Keep up the good work!
Mrs. Patricia A. Cousineau
Dear Commissioner Gist,
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and be a guest reader at Warwick Neck School during Reading Week. The children were so excited to hear all about Froggy riding his new bike and they loved that you told them a story about you learning to ride your bike. They also enjoyed the part of the visit when you let them share some of their stories with you as well. Thank you again.
Mrs. Patricia A. Cousineau
Principal, Warwick Neck School