Governor McKee Highlights Rhode Island Department of Education Accomplishments in 2023

Published on Thursday, January 04, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) highlighted the agency's accomplishments and successes for 2023. Through the launch and the continuation of initiatives and programs, the agency continues efforts to lead and support districts, schools, and communities through a unified, strategic direction; use policy, advocacy, and governance structures to create an environment that advances opportunities for all students; and maintain collaboration and efficiency in the department that enables innovation, agility, and continuous learning. The agency is committed to ensuring equity in education and creating conditions for every student to think critically and collaboratively and act as creative, self-motivated, culturally and globally competent learners.

“Ensuring all Rhode Island students have access to high-quality learning experiences is a top priority for my administration because the future success of our state rests in the hands of the leaders of tomorrow,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I commend RIDE for their work over the last year to create programs and support systems that will benefit students and teachers throughout the Ocean State and help us in our work to improve academic achievement and meet Massachusetts levels by 2030.”

“As we look back at 2023, I'm proud of the work RIDE has done to support our students, empower our educators, and aid our community partners in our mission to provide every student a high-quality education,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “The last few years have been some of the most challenging in education, but thanks to the work and commitment of so many, our school communities have moved forward. We will continue to work with our partners to stay the course and improve student outcomes.”


Creating Excellence in Learning

  • RIDE awarded 30 communities $3.8 million in Advancing Learning Beyond the 180-Day School Year grant funding aimed to support communities launch or expansion of extended learning programming in alignment with Governor McKee’s Learn365RI initiative.
  • In 2023 assessment results, Rhode Island saw an increase in participation in RICAS, a second year of significant growth in math proficiency with an approximate 2.7 percentage point increase, and an increase in English Language Arts (ELA) of approximately 2 percentage points. RIDE and LEAs continue efforts to ensure all students learn from grade-level, high-quality instructional materials and learn to read according to the science of reading.
  • RIDE awarded 21 grants totaling $3.93 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding to foster new or expanded partnerships between a local education agency and community-based organizations to provide after school learning and enrichment opportunities for students, in alignment with the report and recommendations of the LEAP Task Force and the Governor’s Learn365RI initiative.
  • The Department awarded $7.5 million in Learning Inside Out Outdoor Classroom grants, supporting 89 projects across 29 local education agencies to create, enhance, and support access to natural resources for all students in the form of outdoor classrooms or schoolyard habitats. An additional $500,000 is supporting professional development throughout the state to better leverage these spaces and programming to benefit students.
  • RIDE launched the $3 million W.E.L.L. Initiative (Wellness in Education Leads to Learning), which is supporting the development of wellness spaces in schools statewide and providing funds for accompanying professional development and programming. The initiative aims to create spaces that allow students and staff to experience a quiet atmosphere and decompress as education systems nationwide seek to reimagine education and school facilities to meet the holistic needs of students in the wake of the pandemic.
  • RIDE supported 15 local education agencies with $1.875 million to secure and operate a food truck and associated supports to promote entrepreneurship, culinary arts, automotive learning, graphic design and more as part of the Menu for Success Student Food Truck Initiative.
  • The Department awarded 12 local education agencies with $4.8 million through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) Stronger Connections Grant to establish strategies and carry out activities that will help increase students’ sense of belonging and safety. The BSCA authorized $1 billion in federal funding to support state education agencies, local education agencies, and schools in establishing and expanding safe, healthy, and supportive learning opportunities and environments.


Engaging Communities

  • RIDE led statewide Back2SchoolRI and AttendanceMattersRI campaigns to energize students, families, and educators to promote good school attendance, raise awareness of the negative impact of chronic absenteeism, highlight the importance and benefits of in-person learning, and underscore available in-school academic and social-emotional support and resources aimed to support students’ success and well being.
  • RIDE is conducting a “Let’s Get Ready” Community of Practice to continue statewide engagement on RIDE's effort to reimagine the high school experience and support local education agencies with the implementation of Readiness-Based Graduation Requirements, which were unanimously approved by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education in November 2022, and will go into effect beginning with the class of 2028.
  • RIDE received over 122,000 responses in the 2023 administration of SurveyWorks, the annual statewide school culture survey, reaching the highest response rates ever from three key audiences: administrators, educators, and families, while the student response rate returned to pre-pandemic levels after declining in 2021 and 2022.
  • For a second year, RIDE offered families Personalized Individual Student Reports that include individualized, multilingual informational videos accessible through a QR code to help them better understand their students’ RICAS scores. The videos are available in 10 languages, provide insight for comparisons to school, district, and state performance, and may be factored by families for their education decision-making.
  • The Department held 10 community sessions ahead of the 2023-2024 academic year to provide assistance completing the application for free or reduced-price school meals for children. Sessions were held at local libraries across the state throughout the month of August in partnership with the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition. A toolkit to support district/school efforts with outreach strategies, communication templates, and meal service models to ensure all students have access to healthy meals was also created.


Attracting World Class Talent

  • RIDE launched, an online recruitment and resource hub for current and prospective educators. The website includes a statewide education job board, highlights the best of Rhode Island, and offers a clear and user-friendly certification roadmap that guides aspiring teachers through the process of becoming certified educators in Rhode Island.
  • RIDE Launched a free, comprehensive preparation program to help teacher candidates pass Praxis tests, which is a step towards teacher certification in Rhode Island. The free program, developed in partnership with University Instructors, supports participants with Praxis preparation offerings worth an estimated $1,000 and aims to ease the financial burden on educators and address the teacher shortage impacting Rhode Island and the nation.
  • The Department hosted a statewide, multi-day job fair at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick to promote and provide individuals in the job market with direct access to open opportunities in a wide range of education-focused areas. The fair allowed over 430 job seekers to engage with over 40 employers in attendance, including 25 local education agencies, nine institutions and preparatory programs of higher education, and seven food and transportation providers.


Promoting Equity

  • RIDE continued targeted support for a second year to districts that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as part of the Learning, Equity, and Accelerated Pathways (LEAP) District Support Program. Program participants include Central Falls, East Providence, Johnston, Newport, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick, and Woonsocket, and they were eligible for matching funds from a pool of more than $20 million to invest in programs to accelerate student learning as well as to provide specialized support.
  • RIDE empaneled the Trauma Informed Schools Commission with 12 local community, education, and mental health professionals to assist the agency with the implementation of the Trauma Informed Schools Act. The Commission was tasked with conducting a review and assessment of existing trauma-informed school and community-based resources and initiatives across the state; informing the development of a trauma-informed school implementation plan and supporting materials that will be submitted to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education; and researching, identifying and cataloging state, federal and philanthropic sources that align with this work.
  • The Department received a $10 million U.S. Department of Education grant to recruit and retain mental health service providers to further support student wellbeing. The grant, over the course of five years, will help pilot programs in four local education agencies (LEAs) with demonstrated need including Coventry Public Schools, Johnston Public Schools, Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District, and the Segue Institute for Learning, with the goal of supporting students statewide.
  • RIDE received a four-year, $7.2 million Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) grant to expand youth mental health services in five local education agencies including the Chariho, East Providence, Newport, and Warwick school districts. The purpose of Project AWARE is to increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth and to provide training for school personnel to detect mental health issues, respond to them, and connect the affected students’ families to needed services.
  • RIDE awarded $322,899 in Multilingual Learner (MLL) Success Grants to 10 local education agencies to support the implementation of the State’s Blueprint for MLL Success. Grant funding was awarded to local education agencies committed to building capacity of local MLL families to serve on school and district improvement teams, developing or enhancing a classroom walkthrough system, professional learning, and/or a collaborative instruction planning system.
  • The Department offered the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Comprehensive Equity Grant program investing $390,000 to close equity gaps and create opportunities for MLLs, who have not historically participated in high-quality CTE programs. Awarded funds assisted specific RIDE-approved CTE programs in supporting MLLs and/or developing pathways/opportunities for students to better access CTE programming.
  • RIDE hosted a presentation and workshop for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in partnership with the College Planning Center of Rhode Island (CPC) and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. Students heard from alumni about the importance of the FAFSA, learned about free FAFSA resources, including the state’s FAFSA dashboard, which shows the percentage of high school seniors who have completed the federal aid application.


Enhancing Governance Structures

  • The Rhode Island Council on Elementary and Secondary Education in 2023 voted to approve nearly $1.3 billion in support of 104 school construction projects across Rhode Island, allowing for educational enhancements, health and safety improvements, and the construction of new and like-new schools.
  • RIDE developed and launched a statewide Strategic Planning System (SPS) that allows all 64 LEAs in the state and all schools to create vertically aligned improvement plans and connect the plans to data, resources, and colleagues across the state. Every single district in the State of Rhode Island has submitted a strategic plan to be part of the SPS marking the first time such a system exists. RIDE reviewed and provided feedback on all LEA Strategic Plans, and used this data to identify state trends regarding areas of need, shared goals, and potential initiatives to achieve these goals.
  • RIDE issued the first release of the Local Education Agency Accountability results. The release met a state requirement established by the Education Accountability Act of 2019 - RIGL 16-97.1-2(a)(1) - requiring RIDE to provide a mechanism to review and report on the efforts of schools, charter schools, and school districts, including regional school districts, to improve the academic achievement of their students.
  • The Department received a $3.2 million federal grant to enhance data collection and analysis related to college and career readiness throughout Rhode Island. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the competitive Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program is designed to help states improve the quality, reliability, and accessibility of education data.
  • RIDE received $876,792 in federal grant funding through the Supporting America’s School Infrastructure Grant Program to enable RIDE’s School Building Authority to increase supports to assist local education agencies with improving building conditions and educational environments for students and teachers.
  • RIDE received an $858,088 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition Grant that will support RIDE and partner organizations in helping schools to expand their menu offerings to include more healthy, nutritious food that also reflects students’ own cultural traditions and heritage.
  • RIDE created and delivered multiple professional learning series with hands-on support for school and district leaders to create improvement plans. Over 120 school teams and 9 LEA teams participated, including all Providence Public Schools. Additionally, the Office of School and District Improvement provided customized support sessions for approximately 25 LEAs and over 130 schools.
  • RIDE assisted Central Falls in appointing six candidates recommended to serve on the Central Falls School District Board of Trustees. The candidates approved by the Council were identified through a robust community engagement process led by a joint search committee composed of representatives from the Governor’s Office, Central Falls Mayor’s Office, Rhode Island Department of Education, the Board of Trustees, and Central Falls families.