Commissioner Deborah A. Gist 

In addition to helping Rhode Island win both a Race to the Top and a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, Commissioner Gist has spearheaded a number of education initiatives, all organized around RIDE's strategic plan, Transforming Education in Rhode Island.


Major Accomplishments: First Three Years as Commissioner 


  • Led the effort to win $75-million Race to the Top Grant
  • Led the effort to win a $50-million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge
  • Held public forums, teacher meetings, and classroom visits in every school district
  • Communicated RIDE message through news media, social media, and electronic media 
  • Became a founding member of Chiefs for Change to advocate for education reform
  • Developed the Rhode Island Model for Educator Evaluation and implemented educator evaluations statewide 
  • Opened alternative pathways into the teaching profession in Rhode Island
  • Required use of teacher qualifications and student need, rather than seniority, for hiring and placement 
  • Developed regulations on teacher competency in English 
  • Linked educator certification to educator evaluations 
  • Established mentoring and induction for all first-year teachers
  • Established an Academy for Transformative Leadership to prepare educators to transform low-achieving schools
  • Championed innovations powered by technology 
  • Developed new regulations for approval and renewal of charter public schools
  • Developed new regulations on career-technical education 
  • Convened a statewide anti-bullying forum and led efforts to prevent bullying, especially cyber-bullying, in and out of school
  • Revised the Secondary School Regulations to include requirements for performance on state assessments 
  • Developed and implemented a protocol for intervention on low-achieving schools 
  • Developed a new system of school accountability and support, which received approval from the U.S. Department of Education
  • Convened a conference and awarded a model-school grant on Innovation Powered by Technology
  • Adopted the Common Core State Standards and trained more than 4,000 educators on its use 
  • Became a governing state on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers (PARCC)
  • With support from a foundation grant, encouraged the expansion of AP course opportunities in all school districts 
  • Launched InfoWorks Live and SurveyWorks
  • Created the Instructional Management System and the Educator Performance and Support System to provide educators with access to user-friendly data
  • Integrated the RIDE data system and the higher-education data system through the Rhode Island DataHUB
  • Launched the Uniform Chart of Accounts
  • Oversaw the development and implementation of the Funding Formula for aid to education
  • Achieved efficiencies through statewide initiatives for transportation, food programs, and purchase of supplies.
  • Implemented a performance-management system based on measurable goals and objectives
  • Developed the RIDE Calendar of Events
  • Redesigned the Special Education Call Center