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9/4/2019 Education reform bills that realign curriculum, fast-track principals, increase accountability signed
STATE HOUSE — Four education reform bills passed by the General Assembly have been ceremonially signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo today at Cranston High School West.

The first law (2019-S 0863B, 2019-H 5008B), introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare, requires the Commissioner of Education to develop statewide academic standards and curriculum frameworks for the core subjects of mathematics, English language arts, and science and technology.

“This law ensures that our academic standards set forth the skills, competencies, and knowledge expected of each student. The curriculum will align with those standards, and the frameworks would provide strategies to help meet the diverse needs of our students, closing any gaps that exist,” said Senator Gallo.

This act also requires the commissioner to identify at least five examples of high-quality curriculum and materials for each of the core subjects, after which local education agencies would be required to select and implement one for each of the core subjects.

Once they select a high-quality curriculum and materials, the Department of Education will identify an assistance partner from within the department to provide any and all support regarding access to, implementation of, and professional development for the curriculum and materials.

 “The goal is to give parents a clear map of what their children will be learning, and have it be consistent statewide,” said Representative McNamara. “It’s tremendously important that we bring these three tiers — standards, curriculum and testing — into alignment.”

The second law (2019-S 0869A, 2019-H 6085Aaa), sponsored by Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a fast-track program to certify new principals. Applicants to the program must have at least 10 years of experience as an “effective” or “highly effective” teacher, a recommendation from the superintendent where they have taught, a record of leadership and a master’s degree.

A third law (2019-S 0865A, 2019-H 6084A) provides for greater school-based management at the school level, expands the duties of principals and school improvement teams, and establishes a new chapter on education accountability which provides for evaluations, assessments, and education review reports on the performance of both school districts and individual schools.

 “This law increases the authority and power of those who know their schools best – the principals, teachers and community members who are fully aware of the their school’s needs and how to best meet these needs,” said Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), the House sponsor of the bill. “I have spoken with numerous school professionals in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, and they tell me such a change would make a significant difference in their ability to properly cultivate the educational environment in order to best serve our children.”

“This legislation will create a greater collaboration among state, district and school officials to develop and implement plans,” said Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), the Senate sponsor of the bill. “This bill is really a culture change for our schools. It’s reform that will focus on the success of individuals by giving greater authority to those who are actually doing the educating at a school and district level.”

The fourth law (2019-H 5887B, 2019-S 1036) sponsored by Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) and Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Narragansett) requires licensed elementary level teachers to be proficient in scientific reading instruction.

Scientific reading instruction is the teaching of how sounds relate to letters and words during reading instruction.  It is based upon research regarding how the brain works while learning spoken and written language with an emphasis on phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, orthographic awareness, and comprehension strategies.

The speakers were joined at the ceremony by Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and Cranston Superintendent of Schools Jeannine Nota-Masse.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903