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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.
  • 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:




Recharging R.I. students' interest in school

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 8/28/2017

This post ran as an op-ed in the Providence Journal entitled "My Turn: Ken Wagner: Recharging R.I. students' interest in school" on August 27, 2017.

 

Picture this: A family sits down to dinner, is on route to soccer practice or getting ready for bed. The inevitable question is posed: “What did you learn at school today?” It’s a scene that’s played out on television and in our own families for decades.

The answer matters. It matters whether or not a student is excited to learn.

Last spring, we launched a statewide school culture and climate survey called SurveyWorks. We heard from educators and families about what is and isn’t working in their school communities. We also heard from nearly 86,000 students, and the results were staggering. When asked, “How interested are you in your classes?,” 65 percent of children in grades 3 through 5 — the majority of young kids — said they were quite or extremely interested. When we asked the same question of students in grades 6 through 12, however, the number dropped to 36 percent.

In fact, only 8 percent of older students said they were extremely interested in their coursework.

When students do not feel connected to, excited by or curious about their coursework, achievement drops and they disengage from their education. Relevance is key to keeping them engaged. We must create conditions under which each student can explore passions, deepen learning, and forge a pathway through the system that helps them acquire not only a well-rounded education, but also, as Gov. Gina Raimondo reminds us, the skills they need to compete for the jobs of today.

We are building these pathways. We’re on track to meet the Governor’s CS4RI challenge to have computer science offered at every school in the state. Working with our colleagues in higher education, we continue to grow the PrepareRI early college program and the Advanced Coursework Network to increase access to college and other challenging courses, with more than 120 offerings through 14 providers this year. We also have more than 140 career preparation programs, built upon strong partnerships with industry leaders, which bridge the gap between classrooms and careers.

Career readiness initiatives continue to expand, thanks in part to Rhode Island’s successful New Skills for Youth grant from JPMorgan Chase. We’ve assembled a group of education leaders to serve as PrepareRI Ambassadors, who will spend this year leading professional development opportunities and creating policy recommendations to enhance career education offerings.

In our five P-TECH programs across the state, students can earn a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, and a first-in-line job opportunity with a business partner. These are hands-on, work-based learning opportunities in technology, health care, and advanced manufacturing that ensure students are ready for their next steps after graduation. In a July 9 Commentary piece (“Creating a stronger manufacturing workforce”), Jeffrey Geiger, the president of General Dynamics Electric Boat, credited P-TECH as a critical resource to supply skilled workers to his company.

This year also marks the start of our new diploma pathway endorsements, through which students can demonstrate deeper learning in an area of interest. If we want students to be successful, we need to empower them.

These efforts will help move the needle, and in the year ahead, we will double down in order to integrate this approach into all schools and all coursework.

Most importantly, all coursework and all pathways should be characterized by rigorous learning opportunities, because it’s not enough to engage our kids — we have to challenge them too. It is only when we take an approach that combines engagement and rigor that we will truly prepare our students for the future.

Traditionally, students have had to adapt to what our schools offer. But if we want our system of education to be nimble and innovative, we must change our way of thinking. The system needs to adapt. Schools and districts must form partnerships that diversify offerings and expand opportunities such as early college, specialized instruction for struggling readers, advanced coursework, and work-based learning. We should adapt to the needs of our students to ensure that when asked what they learned, they have a lot to say and are excited to say it.

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