SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Rhode Island earned a ‘C+’ with a score of 2.33 out of 4 on educational reform advocacy group StudentsFirst’s 2013 State Policy Report Card.
For its 2.33 “GPA,” Rhode Island ranked fifth in the nation behind Louisiana, Florida, Indiana and Washington D.C. Only Louisiana and Florida earned grades in the ‘B’ range, with two B minuses and GPAs of 2.88 and 2.73, respectively.
The StudentsFirst report assigned an overall A-F letter grade to each state and the District of Columbia based on how well the state’s educational policies aligned with the advocacy organization’s 24 policy objectives.
The organization designed a rubric, grouping its 24 policy objectives into three so-called policy pillars: elevating the teaching profession; empowering parents with data and choice; and spending wisely and governing well.
Rhode Island ranked especially well in the “spending wisely” category, with a B- score of 2.78 that earned it the second place ranking in the U.S.
“Rhode Island has laws that streamline accountability and help ensure taxpayer resources are spent wisely,” said the StudentsFirst report. “The state has authority to take over or reconstitute low-performing schools and districts.”
The report went on to laud the state’s progress with teacher pension reform.
For the “elevating teachers” section, Rhode Island ranked fourth in the nation with a B- score of 2.91. “Rhode Island is a leader when it comes to ensuring effective teachers and principals are identified, retained and rewarded by districts,” said the report. “Rhode Island evaluates teachers based on key multiple measures, including significant weighting of student academic growth.”
The state fared worse in the “empowering parents” category, ranking eighth in the nation, but earning a D+ with a score of 1.35. “All families should be able to choose among quality schools, and no student should be forced to attend a low-performing school or be taught by an ineffective teacher,” said the report, adding that: “Rhode Island has taken a first step in empowering parents by releasing teacher performance information. The state should also require that its school report cards give each school an A-F academic letter grade and notify parents when students are placed with an ineffective teacher.”
Overall, the report called Rhode Island a “leader in education reform by prioritizing great teaching and using resources wisely to raise student achievement. The state has developed meaningful educator evaluations and high-quality alternative pathways to certification.”