PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new report released overnight recommends a number of improvements for Rhode Island’s public schools.
The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council’s (RIPEC) 70-page report found that the education system is in a state of crisis that worsened during the pandemic.
The report explains how the state’s education system has changed over the past few decades and how schools in Rhode Island have failed to keep up.
RIPEC’s data shows poor results on state testing and a steep decline in participation rates for both the SAT and Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System.
Trends in absenteeism among students and teachers are also alarming, according to the report. Rhode Island has historically had high teacher absenteeism compared to the rest of the country, and in 2020-2021, more than 25% of students were chronically absent.
Data in the report shows also the number of students with limited English proficiency (LEP) in schools has more than doubled (from 5% to 11%) since 2006.
“In a way, we have an entirely different education system than we had even five years ago. We’ve seen an over 40% increase in our limited English-proficient population, and we’ve seen the impacts of COVID. I think establishing that new baseline is also important,” said Justine Oliva, Manager of Research, RIPEC.
So what should Rhode Island schools do to improve? One recommendation in the report is to dedicate resources to get current teachers certified to teach LEP students and to revise the school funding formula to include money for disadvantaged communities.
The report also recommends recruiting, retaining and supporting new teachers, specifically in high-need areas and teachers of color.
12 News has reached out to the Rhode Island Department of Education for a comment and is awaiting to hear back.