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RIDE’s Proposed Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements to Reimagine High School Now Most-Commented Upon Regulation in History of K-12 Education in Rhode Island

Public Comment Period Ends May 10

PROVIDENCE, RI - Today the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) announced that its proposal for Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements became the most commented upon set of regulations in the history of K-12 education in Rhode Island. RIDE, which first began engagement last summer to craft the proposal and launched a public comment period on March 7, has hailed the milestone of having received over 300 submissions of public comment on their proposed Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements to Reimagine High School. With just under a month until public comment closes on May 10, there is still plenty of time for members of the public to get involved and provide input. RIDE set this milestone as a goal to make sure all voices are heard as Rhode Island reimagines the high school experience so all children graduate high school with open doors to create their future.

“When we started this process last summer, I challenged our team to make sure all voices are heard and to have these regulations be the most commented upon set of regulations in the history of education in Rhode Island,” said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “It was ambitious, but engaging the community is a critical piece of our work to continue to improve our state education system. This milestone means that our students, parents, and teachers are engaged and determined to make sure that our state’s high school graduation requirements meet the needs of our kids and set them on a path to success.”

“As we reimagine the high school experience, it’s important that we engage and hear directly from the community about their wants and needs,” said Council on Elementary and Secondary Education Chair Patti DiCenso. “We’re thankful to the community members who have let their voice be heard as part of this process and invite those who have not to provide their input.”

Individuals and organizations are encouraged to review the proposal and submit comment in writing via mail addressed to RIDE at 255 Westminster Street, Providence RI 02903, or by emailing RIDE Executive Associate Olivia Smith, at: olivia.smith@ride.ri.gov. Additionally, to enhance public participation starting on March 22, RIDE began holding public comment sessions across the state. RIDE has held five of seven scheduled public hearings as of April 13, 2022. A full schedule of opportunities is available on the Graduation Requirements page. Below is information on the remaining public hearings:

April 14, 2022 at Adams Public Library from 4:00-6:00 PM
April 26, 2022 at Newport Public Library from 4:00-6:00 PM

To date, RIDE has received public comment submissions from current and former students, parents, educators, school and district leaders, community members, and industry partners. Feedback has expressed support, opposition, and provided invaluable feedback that will lead to revisions in the proposal as well as identifying strategies to guide the implementation of the proposal. An additional forum centered around arts education was added to the calendar along with a community conversation session to have an open conversation with the public about how the proposal aims to reimagine the high school experience.

“The response from members of the public has been great,” said Executive Associate Olivia Smith. “We always knew that people would be passionate about what’s important to them in education, but these sorts of changes can be complex and we are working hard to communicate the changes so that everyone can share their perspective. We’ve received a lot of feedback about what concerns they have about the changes, and it’s really helped us identify what the proposal got right and what we must be clearer about going forward. I encourage anyone who has additional comments to send me an email at Olivia.Smith@ride.ri.gov.”

The proposal aims to strengthen and expand career and technical education, align high school coursework requirements with the courses students are required to have taken in order to be eligible for admission at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. The proposal would require specific subjects such as Algebra I, II and Geometry, two credits of lab science, two credits of world language, a college preparatory credit, and specifies that students must demonstrate proficiency in Civics, Computer Science, and Financial Literacy to graduate. Schools will also develop policies to recognize work-based learning for academic credit.

Finally, the proposed regulations prioritize ensuring that local school districts and other local education authorities support students who are caregivers for family members by providing them the support and flexibility needed so that choosing economics over academics is never a decision students must face. Districts and other local education authorities will also have to provide parents an annual update on their child’s progress towards meeting these graduation requirements and will also have to inform their local school committee about how they’re fulfilling these requirements.

While RIDE’s received the most public comments on any set of regulations in the history of K-12 education in Rhode Island, the work and process are a long way from being done. The public comment period will end on May 10, 2022. RIDE officials stressed that these public comments will have an impact on what goes into the final regulations when they go before the State of Rhode Island’s K-12 Council on Education.

“We’ve said all along that we want to get this right,” said Stephen Osborn, RIDE State Strategy and Student Opportunity Officer. “To the best of our abilities, the comments we receive during this process will be reflected and incorporated in the final proposed regulations. It’s important that we have this information, as we can only change what’s commented upon by the public. The more voices we hear and the more feedback we receive only strengthens our proposal to adopt readiness-based graduation requirements. This feedback is what we need to make sure all of our kids graduate high school with the opportunity to create their own future and thrive.”