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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Commissioner Wagner's blog posts and messages to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:




Message to Families, Educators on PARCC Assessments

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 2/19/2016

As we prepare for the administration of 2016 PARCC assessments, I wanted to reach out to share a few thoughts about why it is important to use a small amount of our instructional time for the administration of a statewide assessment.

First, a statewide assessment is the only way, using a common measure, to determine whether all students are making progress on our statewide, grade-level learning expectations.

Our learning standards were designed to prepare students for the next grade, culminating in readiness for postsecondary education and meaningful careers in a 21st-century economy. Our statewide assessment provides parents and families with objective information about whether their children are academically on track. The assessment helps educators benchmark the performance of their students against those across the state, and it gives the public a common statewide measure of how schools are doing at improving learning for all students. For these reasons, federal law requires annual statewide assessments, and federal law also holds schools and districts accountable for attaining at least 95-percent student participation.

Second, assessments provide us with just one measure – a snapshot in time – of student achievement. Although we should never make important decisions about students or teachers based on one measure alone, a comprehensive picture of student progress emerges from different kinds of measures over time. So we are taking another look at our diploma system to ensure that our graduation requirements are meaningful but fair and that they support multiple measures and multiple ways for students to express their knowledge and skills, building upon their strengths and interests.

Third, PARCC offers a set of high-quality assessments that align with our expectations for students at each grade level, the work students do in class every day, and the skills students will need for success beyond high school: problem-solving, critical thinking, and analysis of writing selections. Three recent studies from independent nonprofit organizations have confirmed the high quality of PARCC assessments:

one from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation:

http://edexcellence.net/publications/evaluating-the-content-and-quality-of-next-generation-assessments

and another from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year:

http://www.nnstoy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Right-Trajectory-FINAL.pdf.

and a third from the American Institutes for Research:

http://www.air.org/resource/national-benchmarks-state-achievement-standards

The bottom line: Results on the PARCC test can be useful to students, their families, and teachers by revealing areas of student strength and the knowledge and skills that need additional support.

Finally, we’ve learned a lot from our first year of PARCC implementation. This year, there will be only one testing period for PARCC, the testing time will be shorter, and we will receive results much sooner – before the start of the next school year. For those who are curious about the contents of PARCC assessments, the PARCC consortium has on its website a lot of good information on these assessments, including practice tests and actual items from previous tests. See:

Rhode Island schools administer PARCC assessments either online or on paper – with the vast majority of schools administering the tests online. By next year, we hope to have 100-percent online administration of PARCC assessments, with the exception of students who need individual modifications. Although there has been discussion regarding whether our students and systems are ready for online tests, we believe it is important to continue the transition to the online version. Digital access and readiness will become increasingly important for teaching and learning, student engagement, and success in the 21st century.

While we expect all eligible students to participate in the PARCC assessments, consistent with federal law, we understand that some families may still have concerns about participation. If a family has questions about participation, we should help them understand the benefits, for themselves and their community, of participation in a comparable statewide assessment. Once we have helped them understand the benefits of participation, we should manage the test administration window in an orderly manner for all students.

Working together, we can ensure that test administration this year proceeds smoothly, causes no unnecessary stress or distraction from classroom instruction, and provides all of us with one important measure of student progress to support teaching and learning.

Assessment serves instruction – not the other way around. We thank you for your efforts every day to provide and support amazing teaching and exciting learning for all students in all Rhode Island communities.

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