RIDE

RIDE reaffirms protection for transgender students

Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Ken Wagner released the following statement this morning in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind federal protections that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity:

“Yesterday, the federal government rescinded guidance that was previously issued regarding transgender and gender nonconforming students. The rescinding of this federal guidance does not change our policy – there is no room for discrimination in our schools, and we will continue to protect all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, from any type of bias. Rhode Island has a strong history of encouraging safe and supportive learning environments, and we intend to continue that practice. It is imperative that all education professionals continue to be strong role models and advocates for the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to their care.”

As a result, it will continue to be the Rhode Island Department of Education’s expectation that all schools and school districts will:

  • Foster an education environment that is safe and free from discrimination for all students, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression;
  • Comply with all federal and state laws concerning bullying, harassment, and discrimination;
  • Reduce the stigmatization of and improve the educational integration of transgender and nonconforming students, maintaining the privacy of all students, and fostering cultural competence and professional development for school staff; and
  • Support healthy communication between educators and parent(s)/guardian(s) to further the successful educational development and well-being of every student.

For more information, please read the Guidance for Rhode Island Schools on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students [PDF].

RI schools embrace open-source resources

Rhode Island has joined a new multi-state, open-education initiative to put more free educational resources in the hands of students and teachers, the RI Dept. of Education announced this afternoon.

Through the #GoOpen initiative, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Education, Rhode Island joins 12 other states that have pledged to work together in the first #GoOpen cohort to support teachers in using high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.

“By joining the #GoOpen initiative, Rhode Island has entered into a partnership with other states committed to innovation and the use of technology to support learning,” said R.I. Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We recognize the importance of providing our students with the highest-quality learning resources, and we want to make excellent online instructional materials available to our teachers, free of charge. The #GoOpen initiative will accelerate our commitment to bringing our schools and classrooms into the digital age.”

Openly licensed educational resources are digital learning materials that can be used, modified, and shared without breaking copyright laws or paying licensing fees. As such, openly licensed educational resources have enormous potential to increase equitable access to high-quality education opportunities for all students.

Rhode Island was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education at the #GoOpen Exchange, taking place today (February 26) in San Francisco, for its commitment to work with other states to help teachers transition from traditional textbooks to openly licensed educational resources. “We are excited to work with Rhode Island to make openly licensed educational resources available to more teachers,” said Joseph South, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “The smart use of digital-learning resources can increase equity and empower teachers.”

“Rhode Island has become a leader in digital learning through our Innovation Powered by Technology grants and annual conferences. This new initiative, focused on openly licensed educational resources, brings tremendous opportunities for our students and teachers,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “Not only can these online materials advance classroom instruction – these resources can also save taxpayer money, as they are available at no cost. I am glad Rhode Island has joined this partnership.”

“We have made many wise investments in technology for our schools, such as the Wireless Classroom Initiative, which has brought wireless Internet access to all Rhode Island classrooms,” said Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “The #GoOpen initiative is an important next step that will support our adoption of digital learning in the classroom.”

“Teaching and learning improve only when teachers have time to collaborate, analyze the learning standards, develop curriculum and lessons, review student work, observe one another, get feedback, and reflect on their practice,” said Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “As members of the #GoOpen cohort, we encourage schools to use high-quality open educational resources – free curriculum and instructional materials that can be adapted for local purposes – and free up money to be used for ongoing professional development.”

Transitioning to openly licensed resources is essential to preparing our students to be successful. “We can’t prepare our students to thrive in the future using costly, outdated textbooks of the past,” said Richard Culatta, Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Rhode Island. “Openly licensed educational resources allow teachers to adapt and modify learning activities to fit the needs of their students and save money for their school.”

In joining the #GoOpen cohort, the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE), in partnership with the R.I. Office of Innovation, has agreed to the following commitments:

  • Implement a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component.
  • Create a repository of openly licensed educational resources for teachers, students, and families.
  • Collaborate with other #GoOpen states to share openly licensed learning resources and professional development strategies.
  • Create a website to share our commitment to #GoOpen and to document our progress.

For more details on #GoOpen commitments made by states, school districts, and technology companies, visit: http://tech.ed.gov/open.

Editorial note: Written from a RIDE news release.

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02871, Localblogging, RIDE

Portsmouth educator named to RIDE strategic plan team

The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education last night selected 26 Rhode Islanders to serve on the "Ambassador Design Team," which will develop and write the next strategic plan for elementary and secondary education in Rhode Island, according to a statement from the RI Dept. of Ed. Among those named is Portmouth resident Amy Mullen, who teaches in the Tiverton school district.

“I am very proud that we have selected such a diverse and talented group of people to develop and write the next strategic plan for Rhode Island public education,” said Eva-Marie Mancuso, Chair of the Board of Education. “I am so grateful to every single person who applied to join this team. The team has the balance, the talent, and the expertise we need to develop a great strategic plan. With this team in place and ready to begin work, I am confident that we will have a plan that will advance learning and achievement for all Rhode Island students.”

“The design team we have selected represents much of what is great about both our state and our educational system,” said Patrick A. Guida, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “It is highly racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse. It includes people with many different educational and professional experiences. It includes people who have been educated internationally and people who have received all of their education in our public institutions. It includes elected officials, business people, and representatives of postsecondary education. And, perhaps most important, it includes students, parents, and educators from throughout our state.”

About 300 Rhode Islanders submitted initial applications to join the Ambassador Design Team, with 156 people completing the application process.

“I want to thank everyone who applied to serve on the design team,” Chair Guida added. “Everyone who applied is going to be invited to join in the process in another meaningful capacity. We are going to do our best to keep this incredible pool of committed individuals involved in this process.”

“As many of us have said from the outset, we want our next strategic plan to be a plan that all Rhode Islanders can embrace and support,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The design team members whom the Council members have selected represent a wide range of views, but they share a commitment to our schools and to our students. We all have a role to play when it comes to improving our public schools, and the tremendous interest that Rhode Islanders have shown in the development of our strategic plan is very encouraging and heartening. I believe that the plan this team develops will guide our work and inspire us as we continue to transform education in Rhode Island.”

The members of the team will begin meeting this month, with the goal of presenting a plan to the Council for approval in June. The plan will guide public education in Rhode Island over the next five years.

The team will base its work in part on the results of the survey on public education, which is underway and will run through the end of the year. A link to the survey is here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2BSZ7L6

The survey is available in six languages in addition to English, and all Rhode Islanders are encouraged to participate.

The design team comprises two groups: a core team of 12 members, which will do the research and writing toward development of the strategic plan, and an extended team of 14 members, which will engage in school visits, outside research and readings, and other activities to support the thinking and the work of the core team.

David Moscarelli, the 2015 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, and Jeremiah Newell, a doctoral student in education leadership at Harvard University doing a residency at RIDE, will facilitate the meetings of the design team.

A list of the members of the Ambassador Design Team (core team and extended team) follows.

The Members of the Ambassador Design Team – Core Team

Michael Barnes
Superintendent of Schools, Foster-Glocester Regional Schools
I hope to contribute to the creation of a strategic direction for RI schools that ensures each graduate is globally competitive, technologically fluent, and can demonstrate proficiency with 21st Century Skills and work habits needed for success in post-secondary education, careers, and life in a knowledge-based society. I hope to see a plan that strengthens, statewide, the focus on personalized, relevant, and collaborative digital learning experiences and the creation of flexible college and career pathways that purposefully prepare students for local and global labor markets.

Colleen Crotteau
Teacher of English Learners, Newport Public Schools
I am eager to contribute my 23 years of teaching experience to the Ambassador Design Team. Through my participation, I hope to help transform education in Rhode Island. As a parent and an educator, I think we can do better for our kids and I am 100 percent invested in Rhode Island schools.

Doris De Los Santos
Executive Director, Partnership, Development & Community Engagement, Providence Public Schools
It will be an honor to serve as an Ambassador Design Team to address one of the most important policy issues we face as a State and as a nation. As a mother of two, as a professional in the field, and as an active community advocate, I do not think there is a better way to affect systemic change than to be part of such a privileged team.

Adam Flynn
Assistant Director, Title I Coordinator, William M. Davies Jr., Career and Technical High School
As an administrator at Davies Career and Technical High School, a former classroom teacher, and more recently as a parent of a kindergarten student in the Cranston public schools I feel so

strongly about the need for a clear, well-articulated, ambitious, and attainable plan to continue the improvement of the public education system in Rhode Island. I look forward to the opportunity to work with others who are passionate about education and to have a collective positive impact on our students.

Mike Grey
Vice President of Operations, Northeast Region, Sodexho School Services, member of Governor’s Workforce Board
As a member of the Ambassador Design Team I hope to offer my support and skills to help create strategy for public education improvement. Our public education system is the best resource and most important lever for improving the quality of life and well-being of Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island communities.

Candace Harper
Family Engagement Coordinator, College Crusade of Rhode Island
Quality education is important to ensure a successful future for all children. Through my participation on this Ambassador Design Team, I will strive to help to shape an opportunity for generations of future students. It will be an opportunity to grow professionally and to connect with others in pursuit of a common goal that will have a lasting, positive impact on our community and state.

Yolanda Nazario
World-languages teacher, Lincoln Public Schools
I am eager to be part of creating a plan that promotes the success of both our students and teachers. Through my service, I hope to have meaningful and achievable goals that will inspire our teachers and students to strive for their best.

Brian Rowe
Student, North Smithfield High School
I look forward to contributing a strong and well-informed student voice to the strategic-planning process. Serving as a member of this team will also further prepare me to be an educated voice in my school community; I look forward to devoting my time and energy to improving public education in Rhode Island.

John Santangelo
Mathematics teacher and vice-president of the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance
I hope to bring the voice of practitioners to these very important deliberations; I’ve had a 25+ year career as a teacher, union leader, and parent, and I am committed to the successful implementation of the plan we will develop together.

Earl N. Smith III
Assistant Dean – Student Affairs, University of Rhode Island
I hope to share my experience of marginalization as a student and administrator so we do not continue to exclude and/or oppress others. More significantly, I expect to set an example by taking responsibility and not just complaining.

Lisa P. Tomasso
Served on Coventry School Committee, in House of Representatives, on Race to the Top Steering Committee
Fifteen years ago, I volunteered to help in my son’s kindergarten classroom; I fell in love with public education and discovered the importance of success for all of the students. As a member of the Ambassador Design Team, I hope to provide strategic input and guidance on issues facing our public schools, educators, and students. Our cooperative effort will ensure that all children will be prepared to lead successful and fulfilling lives as productive members of a global society.

One additional student member to be announced.

The Members of the Ambassador Design Team – Extended Team

Brian Baldizar
Assistant Principal, Classical High School Providence
As a member of the design team, I hope to help shape the future of Rhode Island public education. From my first-hand knowledge of youth and community engagement, my time as a teacher, my work transforming schools, and now as a school administrator, I am aware of how urgent and critical this work is for our young people, cities, towns, and our state as a whole.

Ana W. Barraza
Adult Basic Education instructor, Providence
I hope to gain a better understanding of Rhode Island’s vision for serving our Pre-K through grade-12 population and to impact that vision through my own knowledge and experience.

Dana Borelli-Murray
Executive Director, Highlander Institute
As a native Rhode Islander with deep family ties to the city, I hope to contribute my personal and professional expertise and passion to the Rhode Island educational landscape: creative thinking, innovative design, social justice, and a deep belief in dismantling convention in order to meet the changing needs of all learners in this digital information age.

S. Kai Cameron
Facilitator for Community Partnerships, Providence Public Schools
As a native Rhode Islander and long-time resident of the city of Providence, I believe that my personal and professional experiences with students and parents will offer insight that may be “missing” at the table. I strongly believe that each and every day is an opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute; participation on the Ambassador Design Team provides me a means for living this credo.

Christopher Haskins
Head of Paul Cuffee School
I hope to contribute my knowledge, experience, and vision for what a great public K-12 school system can do for Rhode Island students.

Robert Jones
North Kingstown School Committee, Director of Strategic Planning and Research at Bryant University
As an ambassador, I hope to play a part in developing a strategic plan for our state that reflects my passion and commitment to our public school system. I hope to learn from other team members and bring new expertise back to North Kingstown.

Piedade Lemos
World languages teachers, Providence Public Schools
Being part of the Ambassador Design Team will give me the opportunity to share the knowledge that I have accumulated these past years in my role as a teacher and parent, along with an understanding of the issues facing urban students. I hope to contribute to the creation of a cohesive plan with achievable, aggressive results and, at the same time, learn from others on the team.

Amy Mullen
President, Tiverton Teachers

Tyler Nettleton
Student, Chariho High School
As a current student, I hope to gain more knowledge about the public education system and the ways it can support students. As a Rhode Island high-school senior, I look forward to giving back to this system by contributing the knowledge I have as a student and to bring the voice of students to the team.

Jeannine Nota-Masse
Assistant Superintendent, Cranston School Department
I am completely invested in public education as both a parent and an educator. As a member of the Ambassador Design Team, I hope to contribute a tenacious work ethic, honest and thoughtful opinions, and the perspective that spans the full breadth of my experiences as an educator, and look forward to devoting my time to making education better for all children in our state.

Jo-Ann Schofield
Co-chair, The Mentoring Partnership
Now is the time to work toward creating a meaningful strategic plan for Rhode Island public schools. I will contribute my passion for and enthusiasm in the belief that every student is capable of success with the help and guidance of a positive adult in their lives. As a dedicated team member I will embrace the shared goal of an improved public education system that will build a brighter future for Rhode Island, its children, and its families.

Chris Semonelli
Co-director Newport County Mentor/Co-Op Group
I want to improve Rhode Island’s economy by supplying a well-trained and interested workforce that meets our business needs while at the same time providing a rich, rewarding, and fulfilling education for our students.

Andrea J. Spas
Assistant Director of Special Education, Chariho Regional School District
I want to be a part of a team that considers the unique and varying needs of all students and, in particular, students with disabilities. I look forward to helping craft a strategic plan that focuses on closing achievement gaps and providing all students with a rigorous educational experience.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Full disclosure: I was an applicant in this process, and while I wasn't selected for either of the core teams, I'm delighted to have been picked for the "Strategy Review Team" which will be reviewing the documents produced by the core team at several points.

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02871, Localblogging, RIDE, education

RI Dept. of Ed seeks input on strategic plan process

The RI Dept. of Education and the RI Board of Education have kicked off the process of creating the next state-wide education strategic plan, and you can provide your input on the web. Here's the note announcing the process that went out from Commissioner Deborah Gist this morning:

Dear Friends of Education,

We want to hear your voice as we begin to develop Rhode Island's new strategic plan for public education!

Our new plan will be for, from, and about all Rhode Islanders, and we will build this plan through a statewide conversation. The first step of this conversation is underway: we are asking all Rhode Islanders to share with us their views on education through a short, anonymous survey that will take no more than five minutes to complete. In the first two weeks, we have received a tremendous response of more than 4,000 participants - but we have another six weeks to go and want to hear from as many Rhode Islanders as possible!

I am seeking your help to ensure that your voice is part of this conversation. You can see the overall results in real time on our web site at www.ride.ri.gov/Strategic-Plan-Survey-Results.

I would be very grateful if you would please take the survey and share this link with everyone in your networks: www.ride.ri.gov/Strategic-Plan-Survey

Here is a link to the Spanish-language version of the survey: www.ride.ri.gov/Strategic-Plan-Survey-ES

A brief summary of the entire design process for the strategic plan is posted on RIDE's website at www.ride.ri.gov/Strategic-Plan

We have embarked on an ambitious project, and, with your help and participation, I know that we can develop a dynamic and ambitious strategic plan that will improve the lives of our students and their families for years to come.

Best,

Deborah A. Gist
Commissioner

Editorial note: Written from an e-mail.

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02871, Localblogging, RIDE, education

RIDE to hold 3rd annual Innovation Powered by Technology conference

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The 3rd annual R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) Innovation Powered by Technology conference will take place on Saturday (October 25), from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin St., Providence.

The conference will include workshops, breakout sessions, panel discussions, demonstrations of student work, keynote addresses, and exhibits. Some of the leaders in digital learning, from Rhode Island schools and from across the country, will participate in this conference.

Registration is open to all. More than 700 people have registered so far, and we expect this year’s conference to be the biggest yet. RIDE invites the media to attend the conference, and we welcome any advance notice of this conference in the media.

Information about the conference is on the home page of the RIDE website, or the public can access the registration form directly at:

http://www.rsvpbook.com/event_page.php?id=587385&p=921

Conference partners include CDW-G, the Highlander Institute, Learning401, the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance, the Rhode Island Society of Technology Educators, Spartina Consulting, the United Way, and the University of Rhode Island School of Education, Harrington School of Communication and Media, and Media Education Lab.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

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Gist reacts to kneecapped NECAP

Following the announcement this afternoon that Gov. Chafee had allowed to become law a bill that deferred NECAP testing as a graduation requirement, RIDE Commissioner Deborah Gist released the following statement to the media:

Statement on legislation on standardized assessments and graduation decisions
Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner
July 1, 2014

Student readiness for college, careers, and life remains our highest priority, and we will continue working with our school districts to prepare all students for success.

Based on regulations put in place in 2008, we expected students in the Class of 2014 to attain the level of at least partial proficiency or show significant improvement on state assessments in order to be eligible to earn a diploma. As a result, students, families, teachers, and community members stepped up to ensure that our students received additional support to improve their skills, particularly in mathematics. Because of that effort, more than 2,000 students significantly improved their performance in mathematics and at least 95 percent of all high-school seniors met the state-assessment graduation requirement.

Given the change in law, we will continue working with school leaders and teachers to make sure students still receive the support they need to improve their achievement levels and to be ready for success in college and in challenging careers.

During the many public discussions of our Diploma System, every voice raised called for high expectations and extra supports for our students. We all agree on this point. This legislation states that Rhode Island shall use standardized assessments “to promote school improvement and to target remediation programs to individual students and groups of students.” We will remain constant in our commitment to setting high expectations for students and to providing students with the instruction, support, and resources they need to meet these expectations.

–Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

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PHS among 30 "commended" RIDE schools

Portsmouth high school is among the schools in 20 districts plus 3 public charters receiving the highest classification, "Commended," in the 2014 School Classifications announced today by the RI Department of Education (RIDE), according to a press release. RIDE used the Rhode Island Accountability System, which is designed to recognize outstanding performance and to provide support to low-achieving schools, to determine the 2014 School Classifications.

“I am glad that we have been able to honor schools from the majority of our school districts as 2014 Commended Schools, and I am particularly pleased that 18 high schools are among our commended schools this year,” said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Under our new Diploma System, these high schools have maintained high levels of proficiency while closing achievement gaps and supporting a high graduation rate. We will continue working to advance all schools toward greatness, with a particular concentration on helping our Priority and Focus Schools move forward with their approved plans for school transformation.”

Of the 277 classified schools, RIDE identified 30 schools (11 percent) as Commended. In addition to PHS, other local schools on the list are Fort Barton School (Tiverton), Rockwell School (Bristol Warren), Barrington High School, Middletown High School, and Mt. Hope High School (Bristol Warren).

As in previous years, RIDE based the 2014 School Classifications on:

  • Proficiency: How many students have attained proficiency or better?
  • Distinction: How many students have attained distinction?
  • Participation: How many students take the state assessments?
  • Gap-closing: Is the school serving all students, including those with disabilities and English Learners?
  • Progress: Is the school approaching its 2017 targets?
  • Growth (K-8): Are all students making progress?
  • Improvement (high schools): Is the school improving annually?
  • Graduation (high schools): Is the school reaching its graduation-rate goals?

Using these measures, RIDE placed each school into one of six classifications: Commended, Leading, Typical, Warning, Focus, or Priority.

As was the case last year, RIDE also classified 32 schools (12 percent) in the lowest classifications: 21 Priority Schools and 11 Focus Schools, adding only one new school: the Orlo Avenue School, in East Providence. The Priority and Focus schools are in Central Falls, East Providence, Pawtucket, and Providence, plus the Rhode Island School for the Deaf and the Segue Institute for Learning charter public school.

Priority and Focus Schools are designated for state intervention, which entails a diagnostic screening process to determine the strengths each school has and the challenges each school faces. Subject to Commissioner Gist’s approval, superintendents select an intervention model for each Priority and Focus school and then develop school-turnaround plans, which include numerous reform strategies in the areas of leadership, support, infrastructure, and content. The plans are designed to address the specific needs of each identified school.

Although some of the Priority and Focus schools have made improvements, RIDE is committed to holding schools in Priority and Focus status to give these schools sufficient time to develop and implement their plans for transformation.

“School turnaround is a major undertaking that requires several years of progress before we can be confident that the improvements are durable,” Commissioner Gist said. “As a result, we continue to work closely with all Priority and Focus schools for at least two years to ensure that they are on the road toward school improvement.”

The 55 Warning Schools that RIDE identified today must also develop and implement plans for improvement, but on a lesser scale and without intensive RIDE oversight.

A complete list of the 2014 School Classifications is available on the RIDE web site.

RIDE also has a Fact Sheet (see under User Guides) and other information on the Rhode Island Accountability System (see under School Performance Tables).

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

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02871, Localblogging, Schools, RIDE

Rhode Island plans to enhance digital literacy

The Rhode Island Adult Education Professional Development Center (PD Center) and Broadband Rhode Island (BBRI) today announced the launch of an agreement to develop and implement a plan for long-term sustainability of BBRI's Digital Literacy Project to improve adult Internet usage across the state, according to a RIDE press release.

As part of the federally funded initiative, BBRI created a digital literacy program for adults, including curriculum and instructor training and established a thriving network of over 200 volunteer and professional digital literacy trainers whose efforts target the state's disadvantaged populations. To date, these instructors delivered digital literacy training to almost 1,000 adults through libraries, public housing authorities, adult education organizations and senior centers.

“The question for us was how do we sustain and grow the BBRI Digital Literacy program beyond our current capacity,” said Stuart Freiman, Broadband Program Director, RI Office of Digital Excellence. Because the organizations' target populations overlap significantly, “With its focus on assisting educators who work with the state's adult learners, we established a productive working relationship with the PD Center. They are ideally suited to carry forward our important mission of expanding broadband awareness and adoption in order to improve Rhode Islanders' lives.”

The PD Center and BBRI have outlined plans for numerous activities throughout this year that are designed to strengthen the Digital Literacy Project and sustain its impact beyond the grant that was made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In the area of training, the PD Center and BBRI will work in partnership to develop a sustainable digital literacy trainer network, through adult education organizations and libraries that does not rely solely on volunteers.

The work plan for 2014 also includes development of a recognized standard for digital literacy outcomes, and establishment of criteria for evaluating adult learners' readiness to apply digital literacy skills to tasks such as participating in distance learning and completing essential life skills tasks online.

Jill Holloway, director of the PD Center at the West Bay Collaborative, will coordinate project planning and management under the initiative. Among the project's components, a technology expert will be brought on to upload and align BBRI's work and to train PD Center staff in managing and sustaining it. Said Holloway, “The BBRI staff have done an excellent job during their short tenure in laying the groundwork for this effort: from research and awareness campaigns, to the creation of excellent materials and resources, to the actual training of teachers and creating alliances with other programs and agencies in the state. The PD Center is more than pleased to enter this agreement and continue to address the deep digital divide that exists within our workforce and communities.”

BBRI's digital literacy training curriculum has become a key component in the effort to prepare Rhode Island learners to compete in a global digital economy. Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) announced that the BBRI curriculum would be implemented statewide to support all adult education programs in Rhode Island.

About Broadband Rhode Island
Broadband Rhode Island, an initiative of the Office of Digital Excellence, R.I. Department of Administration, is funded through December 2014 by the State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program (SBBD) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The initiative focuses on broadband infrastructure mapping and broadband planning in the State of Rhode Island. Programs address public awareness and education about broadband and study and develop plans to increase adoption rate and broadband usage across all aspects of our lives including in our homes, schools, businesses, libraries, healthcare facilities, public safety and government. To learn more about Broadband Rhode Island please visit broadband.ri.gov.

About RI Adult Education Professional Development Center
The RI Professional Development Center (PD Center) delivers high-quality, research-based professional development and technical assistance to Rhode Island's adult education programs and practitioners. Through its leadership and partnerships, the PD Center seeks to support, enhance and promote the network of quality educational opportunities for RI's adult learners. To learn more about the PD Center, please visit riaepdc.org.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

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02871, Localblogging, RIDE, edtech

Hundreds attend RIDE education technology conference

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Portsmouth School committee represents at the RIDE tech conference (l-r) Tom Vadney, Dave Croston, Fred Faerber, Terri Cortvriend.

More than 600 educators from Rhode Island and beyond gathered in Providence today for the RI Dept. of Education 2013 Technology Conference. In just a year since the inaugural event, the conference has doubled in size and adopted a multi-track format spread across function rooms at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

RIDE Commissioner Deborah Gist kicked off the event, followed by a day of plenary sessions, breakouts, and demos by both students and vendors.

In the spirit of digital disintermediation, rather than describe the event, you can take a look at some photos up on Flickr, watch an exclusive harddeadlines interview with keynote speaker and iSchool CEO Travis Allen on YouTube, and read the voluminous and detailed tweets by attendees who used the hashtag #RIDEpowered2013.


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02871, Localblogging, RIDE, Schools, edtech

RI Ed Commissioner skydives for reading


Just a little before 3:30 this afternoon, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist jumped out of an airplane 10,000 feet over Middletown.

Less than a minute later, she was gliding to a stop amid cheers from more than 80 students, parents, and staff from Blackstone Valley Prep who had come to Newport State airport to see her join their math teacher, Drew Madden, in a "dive into a book" celebrating the students' summer reading success.

Gist had never gone skydiving before, but wanted to do something memorable for the kids at BVP. "They smashed their summer reading goals," Gist told reporters. "I wanted to show them how accomplishing their goals could be celebrated in a special way."

"I'm a math teacher," Madden told harddeadlines, "But I'm doing it to show my dedication to literacy."

The two educators had been attentive students as Skydive Newport owner Marc Tripari delivered a pre-jump briefing, explaining how they would be harnessed to an experienced instructor who would take care of everything. "Just fall out of the airplane," said Tripari.

On the other side of the hangar, technician Joe Church was packing their parachutes -- a bright blue and yellow one for Commissioner Gist, and a red and yellow for Madden. Instructor Nicky Sergi had a few last minute words with Gist, then it was time to climb aboard the Cessna 182 for the ten minute climb up to altitude.

There was a blue sky and light winds, with scattered clouds at 5,000 feet. "Beautiful weather," said Tripani.

Kids, parents, and teachers from BVP craned their necks, watching the sky, until they saw the tiny red and blue chutes appear almost directly overhead. There were some gasps and cheers as both the skydivers did loops and turns above the crowd.

Just a few seconds apart, Madden and Gist skidded to safe landings on the grassy area near the hangar, and the crowd burst into cheers and applause.

The two educators were all smiles as they talked to reporters. "It doesn't really feel like falling," said Gist. "It feels like there's some control to it."

Madden agreed. "It feels like diving into water."

Before the jump, Gist had mused aloud to reporters. "How are we going to top this," she said. "What are we going to do next year?"

More photos up on Flickr.

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02871, Localblogging, RIDE, Gist

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