RIDE Commissioner Gist updates General Assembly on 2011 accomplishments

In her annual "State of Education" address to the Rhode Island General Assembly last night, RI Dept. of Ed Commissioner Deborah Gist surveyed the accomplishments of educators around the state and updated progress on state-wide initiatives.

“Even in these tough economic times, when other states are cutting funding and programs, Rhode Island remains committed to public education,” Gist said in remarks distributed to the media. “People around the country recognize that Rhode Island is leading the way in public education – and we should be proud of that!”

During the address, Gist cited accomplishments from the past year, including significant improvements on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (“The Nation’s Report Card”) and receipt of a $50M Federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant – making Rhode Island one of only six states to receive two Race to the Top awards.

She also highlighted statewide education initiatives, including training more than 4,300 educators in the new, world-class Common Core standards, developing user-friendly data systems to provide better reports for the public and to provide teachers with information about the strengths and needs of their students, and building the Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCOA) to provide all school leaders and the public with information and guidance on school spending.

Gist emphasized that her highest priority is ensuring that Rhode Island has excellent teachers in every classroom.

“Our teachers are first and foremost professionals. As professionals, teachers need and deserve the latitude and the responsibility to make decisions within their classrooms,” Gist said. “Our goal is to create a climate in every school where teachers can be innovative, creative, and accountable for results.”

Full text of Comm. Gist's address (pdf)
Fact sheet on RI schools that are "Leading the Way"(pdf)

Editorial note: Written from a press release.