Friday, April 3, 2009

R.I. Commissioner of Education appointed

The ProJo covered the State Board of Regents' appointment of Deborah Gist to be the next state commissioner of education yesterday. I like that she's come in talking about how great schools are the best way to revitalize a struggling economy. As her leadership direction emerges, I'll write about it here, and we'll explore the role of a state commissioner of education on the progress of schools in every community and neighborhood.

Also in question, at least at this early date, are the levels of consistency and divergence with outgoing state ed commissioner Peter McWalter. Of particular interest to me is how committed Gist will be to Rhode Island's high school graduation framework, which contain requirements for students to participate in senior projects, presentations, and portfolio assessment, as this 2008 Education Week story from last year described. In this area, Rhode Island is a leader nationwide. Among Gist's many priorities, I hope that she values this sort of performance-based assessment, which allows all students--including those who may struggle demonstrating what they know and can do solely through high stakes standardized testing--to connect to their communities, apply their academic skills to real-world situations, and demonstrate skills regarded as essential for 21st century success. 

And what will Gist do to build on McWalters' February 2009 letter that established policy that allowed cities to eliminate bumping, shifting instead to more school-based control over teacher hiring? More on that to come...

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