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State Intervention in Providence Begins November 1

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green today released her final Order of Control and Reconstitution (“final Order”) and Decision Establishing Control Over the of the Providence Public School District and Reconstituting Providence Public Schools (“PPSD Decision”). The order formally outlines how the state will manage the turnaround of the chronically underperforming Providence schools.

The final Order will go into effect, and state intervention will officially begin, on November 1, 2019.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Providence, and I am excited to begin the work of transforming the city’s schools to serve generations of students and families,” said Commissioner Infante-Green. “We know the road ahead will be long and challenging in order to make sustainable, long-term change. We are committed to working tirelessly with educators, students, and the community to develop a plan that moves us in that direction from day one.”

The release of the final order caps months of effort and community engagement to deal with the devastating findings of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy report on the Providence schools and a subsequent report from the Council of the Great City Schools. Working with Governor Gina Raimondo and Mayor Jorge Elorza, Commissioner Infante-Green ordered the Johns Hopkins report after the 2018 RICAS scores indicated that just 10 percent of PPSD students were proficient in Math and 14 percent in English Language Arts.

The Johns Hopkins report concluded that PPSD was a “fundamentally broken” system, with challenges that included neglected school buildings, layers of needless bureaucracy, inadequate curriculum and professional development, and demoralized teachers and parents. A series of nine public forums, 14 work sessions and focus groups, and another four group discussions allowed hundreds of parents, teachers, and others to voice their frustration over the failures of PPSD and begin a long-delayed conversation over how to improve the city’s schools.

The Commissioner’s final Order confirms the management plan outlined in her earlier Proposed Order, but includes strengthened provisions to ensure community engagement and input into the Turnaround Plan, including:

The Turnaround Plan shall take into account the issues that youth and families identify, and will include, among other things, the following: (i) provisions, policies, and practices to ensure transparency in the implementation of the Turnaround Plan, (ii) respect, recognition, and value for the diverse communities served by PPSD, (iii) provisions to afford students and parents sufficient opportunity to measure the progress of the Turnaround Plan; and (iv) provisions to afford relevant stakeholders, including students and parents, sufficient mechanisms to express their opinion on material decisions.

The final Order also extends the duration of the Turnaround Plan from three to five years. During that time, progress will be shared regularly with the public.

“I would like to thank the mayor, City Council, and School Board for allowing this effort to move forward, which speaks volumes to the collective recognition that we have no time to waste,” said Commissioner Infante-Green. “We have been failing our kids for too long. But there is a tremendous appetite for change, and I am eager to roll up my sleeves and work alongside the city, community, students, parents, and educators to reimagine education in Providence, and across Rhode Island.”

The Commissioner is actively engaged with candidates for the position of State Turnaround Superintendent, who will be charged with overseeing the city’s schools and working with the community to develop the Turnaround Plan for PPSD. She expects to make an announcement on her decision in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Dr. Fran Gallo will stay on as interim superintendent, and has offered her ongoing support throughout the transition.