PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Today Governor Gina M. Raimondo in partnership with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza committed to strengthening Providence's schools and providing meaningful, lasting improvement in educational outcomes for all students.
In consultation with incoming Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and Mayor Elorza, Governor Raimondo has called on the Department of Education to commission a comprehensive review of the Providence Public School District. The review will identify key causes of the district's challenges and consider pathways for improvement.
The Rhode Island Department of Education will establish a team of education experts charged with conducting the review, which will embrace input from teachers, staff, families and students. The review team will produce a public report, which is anticipated to be complete in June and will inform a long-term course of action that will best serve all students.
"Rhode Island has an urgent need to improve schools and close achievement gaps across the state. Taking this hands-on approach in Providence is a necessary first step in working to improve outcomes and deliver high-quality education for all students in Providence," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "The hardworking students, teachers and staff who work tirelessly every day in Providence schools have been let down by the system. For Providence schools to see sustainable improvement there must be a new approach."
"The status quo is failing our kids and we must do better. We are in a unique moment for our Providence schools and in order to capitalize on this opportunity, we need to work together," said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. "Urban core cities across the country have been hindered by processes and systems that are outdated and stand in the way of progress. We need to act now because our students have waited too long and they cannot wait any longer."
The call for a review follows the 2018 results of the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS), which revealed that fewer than 15 percent of Providence's students are proficient in Math or English Language Arts with significant achievement gaps for students of color. The district also faces a dropout rate that is nearly double the state average, as well as high rates of chronic absenteeism in high school and middle school.
These results are not new and are indicative of deep-rooted challenges that have existed for decades. Over the years, many students, families, teachers, staff and others have expressed frustrations at a lack of progress. While the district has responded by implementing strategies aimed at improving student and school performance, most of these efforts have not had a lasting impact.
"I have dedicated my career to fighting for better outcomes and more equitable access to opportunities for young people. That's exactly what the students and families of Providence deserve, and that's why a holistic review of the district is the right first step," said incoming Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. "My top priority is ensuring that the voices of educators, students, and families are heard throughout this process. Improving Providence schools in a meaningful way is going to take all of us working together with the best interests of students at the center of everything we do."