PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo is calling on the Rhode Island Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive review of Providence’s school district.
In partnership with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Raimondo said the review will identify causes of the district’s challenges and find ways to improve.
The review stems from the 2018 results of the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS), which revealed less than 15% of the city’s students are proficient in math or English.
“The status quo isn’t working,” she said. “The system isn’t working. The RICAS scores that came out in December were yet again a wakeup call and really it’s a call to action to every single one of us.”
“Our kids have been waiting long enough and we’re going to make sure they don’t have to wait another generation for change,” Elorza added.
Raimondo said the review was recommended by the incoming Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, who officially takes on her role next week. The review is expected to take place over the next several weeks.
“It’s an opportunity to just sit with teachers one-on-one and listen, sit with community members one-on-one, and listen and hear their perspective on how they explain these scores and what they think needs to happen,” Raimondo said.
When asked if the review could lead to a state takeover of the city’s school system, Raimondo said it’s too soon to tell.
“We don’t have a predetermined outcome and that’s why we’re beginning by listening,” she said.
Elorza said he would only be open to a state takeover if it was a collaborative effort and not just imposed on the city.
“If it’s a partnership where we’re working together and the entire time we’ve been aligned and in agreement of the steps we want to take, then absolutely,” he said. “We can’t do it alone and we welcome the state’s help.”
Superintendent of Providence Schools Christopher Maher, who recently announced he will step down at the end of the school year, said he is hopeful the review will be a collaborative effort.
“State and district partnerships in education can be successful, especially when educators and community members are highly involved in the process,” Maher said in a statement.