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 


Laying the Groundwork for Success

  • 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

Ensuring Educator Excellence

  • 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

Establishing World-Class Standards and Assessments

  • 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 

Developing User-Friendly Data Systems

  • 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

Investing Our Resources Wisely

  • 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.

Providing Primary Support

  • Implemented a performance-management system based on measurable goals and objectives
  • Developed the RIDE Calendar of Events
  • Redesigned the Special Education Call Center