Commissioner’s Memo to Friends of Education

Commissioner’s Memo to Friends of Education

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

In the wake of events like the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, it is important that we, as educators, do everything we can to foster school and classroom environments where students feel safe and supported. We want school to be a place where students can work through difficult issues, discuss their feelings and fears, and resolve conflicts.

Throughout the month of October, RIDE is using our social media platforms to share resources, best practices, and tips for educators, students, and families surrounding social and emotional learning. Given the events that transpired earlier this week, we particularly wanted to draw your attention to the resources available through the experts at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). CASEL’s website has a page on creating safe learning environments, and the page is regularly updated with new resources.

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, and we want to share resources with educators and families so that we can all play a role in better supporting students who struggle with this challenge. The International Dyslexia Association and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development define dyslexia as being characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. We want to help parents and teachers recognize the warning signs, understand the evaluation and intervention options, and ensure that students with dyslexia get the support they need. The International Dyslexia Association has resources that can serve as a good starting point both for teachers and families. The U.S. Department of Education blog highlights the importance of teachers in making a difference to students with dyslexia.

We’ve been sharing literacy tips in the Field Memo each week because we recognize that the ability to read fluently is a critical skill for our students, and if we want to move the needle on proficiency, across the board, we have to get kids reading joyfully and on grade level. This also fits in with our Third Grade Reading Challenge. We know that a child who does not read on grade level by third grade is significantly less likely to graduate high school, and more likely to face a host of challenges in the future. We cannot accomplish that goal without working with all students, including those with specific learning disabilities.

In the coming weeks, RIDE will be sharing additional resources with the field around supporting students with dyslexia.

Celebrating Principals in October

RIDE joins the National Association of School Principals (NASSP), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), The American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), and the Rhode Island Association of School Principals (RIASP), in celebrating October 2017 as National Principals Month. This is the designated month to celebrate and spotlight the crucial role that principals play in school and student success.

We hope that you will join us in celebrating and spreading the word to your school community, and consider recognizing your district’s principals for their commitment to excellence.

National Dropout Prevention Center shares resources for National Dropout Prevention Month

October is National Dropout Prevention Month! The National Dropout Prevention Center, a part of Clemson University’s College of Education, has created free posters, tent cards, and book marks that can be downloaded and distributed to your schools to help increase awareness and templates for press release and a PSA. There’s even a dropout prevention message from 2016 National Championship Coach Dabo Sweeney that can be downloaded and used. Help spread the word by tweeting, emailing, or otherwise raising awareness that attaining a high school degree has lifelong positive consequences.

All these free resources are available at


RI Teacher Assistants’ Fall Conference:

October 14

Adult Education Survey for Information:

October 20 – Due

PrepareRI Summit:

October 21


October 23 – Due

Presidential Scholars:

October 27 – Due

Family Engagement in Early Literacy

In their latest blog, the Global Family Research Project highlights what libraries, schools, and community groups are doing to promote family engagement in early literacy. They also shared ahelpful infographic to support families in this work!

Submit your amazing stories!

Email of no more than 100 words, or a one-minute video clip, using the subject line “Amazing,” to

Tag @RIDeptEd on Twitter with #amazing to share your story of how your school is reimagining learning.

This week’s highlight:

Jamestown Schools shared with us their goal to expand the world language program to all students from grades K-8. They formed a World Language Study Group (WLSG) comprised of all community stakeholders. The group focused on completing the action steps outlined in the District Strategic Plan. They agreed to develop a program that would introduce and improve their world language instruction.

The effort emphasizes speaking, reading, and writing of the target language, in addition to including cultural exposure. The group discussed the existing middle school program in Jamestown. They conducted an analysis of early world language programs in neighboring districts. Looking into various models, their group agreed that the world language teacher would be teaching with the classroom teacher present during instruction.

A survey was created and launched to retrieve data to support this initiative from the school’s parent community. These results supported a world language program for Melrose School (grades K-4). The group recommended Spanish as the world language selection and proposed a 0.4 FTE world language teacher in the budget, which reflects the frequency and depth of instruction for the first year of implementation. This was approved and will be implemented in phase one of a K-4 world language program this fall at Melrose School.

Memos from RIDE

Thank you for your support

The Office of Educator Excellence and Certification Services would like to thank everyone for supporting the changes that were made to certification office hours. This summer over 13,000 certificates were renewed or issued for the first time. The change to our office hours and your support during the busy summer season helped ensure we were able to review applications within 6-8 weeks instead of the usual 14-16 weeks.

Please continue to share with faculty and staff that certification services will be available to respond to phone calls, emails, and provide in-person support between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mornings are reserved for the processing of applications to ensure a quicker review by an evaluation specialist. Again, thank you for your continued support.

Deadline to register for the PrepareRI Summit is Friday, October 13

PrepareRI is a statewide initiative to prepare all Rhode Island youth with the skills they need for jobs that pay. This work requires broad statewide partnerships, so RIDE will host regular PrepareRI Summits this year to connect leaders and practitioners from schools, government, and private industry.

The fall PrepareRI Summit – held on October 21, 2017 from 8:30 to 2:00 p.m. at the URI Providence campus – will bring together statewide leaders from many different parts of Rhode Island’s career pipeline. Speakers at the Summit include: U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin, Governor Gina Raimondo (via video), RIDE Commissioner Ken Wagner, Rhode Island College President Frank Sanchez, and leaders from the Governor’s Workforce Board, IBM, CVS, and the Rhode Island Foundation.

For a complete list of speakers and to view the schedule and program for the day, please visit our new website:

Register soon – it’s free and spots are filling up fast! Registration closes on October 13, 2017.

RIDE releases request for proposals for Individual Learning Plans systems from qualified firms

RIDE is requesting proposals from qualified firms to provide a comprehensive, efficient, and user-friendly web-based system to support schools and districts in the implementation of Individual Learning Plans, a repository of resources and student reflection in a student’s development of college and career readiness. To access the RFP information, please visit Click on Solicitation Opportunities, then State Agency Solicitations. Type in the solicitation number 7565526, then search. Click on the number under the Solicitation Number column.

Questions concerning this solicitation must be received by the Division of Purchases no later than 5:00 pm (ET) on Monday, October 16, 2017.

The submission deadline for bids is 2:30 pm (ET) on Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

Reminder: United States Senate Youth Program scholarship competition

The United States Senate Youth Program, established in 1962 by U.S. Senate Resolution, is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service. The 56th annual program will be held in Washington, D.C., from March 3 – 10, 2018. Two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity will spend a week in Washington experiencing their national government in action. Student delegates will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies, as well as participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. All transportation, hotel and meal expenses will be provided by The Hearst Foundations. In addition, each delegate will also be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.

The application deadline is October 23, 2017.

Please visit the USSYP webpage for information about how to register

Reminder: October 27 deadline for U.S. Presidential Scholars, U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education

We are seeking nominations from all Rhode Island high schools of students to be named as 2018 Presidential Scholars and from all Rhode Island career and technical education (CTE) centers and high schools of CTE students to be named as 2018 Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education.

Nomination and submission directions are available on the RIDE website for the U.S. Presidential Scholars program and for the U.S. Presidential Scholars for CTE program.

Please read the criteria and nomination process information carefully on the aforementioned pages, as incomplete applications will not be considered.

Both programs have a deadline of October 27, 2017.

To learn more about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and the Commission on Presidential Scholars, please visit the Commission Web site at:

RIDE posts preliminary information on Fiscal Year 2019 education aid

Preliminary Fiscal Year 2019 education-aid information has been posted online on ourState Education Aid webpage.

RIDE has posted preliminary Fiscal Year 2019 education-aid figures to use for budget planning. These projections are for informational purposes only and include the RIDE-requested funding changes, which neither Governor Raimondo nor the General Assembly have approved at this time.

Final allocations may change during the course of the development of the state budget; we will revise our aid projections based on data updates. Additional supporting detail for these calculations has also been posted on the webpage under Funding Formula Background Information.

Please note that the FY 2019 projections were calculated using the March 2017 student data adjusted for anticipated charter school growth. We encourage school districts to review the enrollment estimates used in these preliminary calculations to determine how they compare to current student data. FY 2019 calculations will be updated in March 2018 for the 2017-18 school year student membership.

New for FY 2019

RIDE has posted a funding formula calculator that will allow school districts to adjust their enrollment data to calculate funding changes. In addition, there is further information about how to access the state calculated average daily membership report from the e-RIDE system.

Please contact Kristen Cole at (401) 222-4681 or if you have questions.

Upcoming releases: School Accountability, NECAP Science, and corrected 2016 graduation rates

RIDE will release School Accountability Data, Spring 2017 NECAP Science Results, and corrected 2016 graduation rates in the coming weeks.

The final school accountability classifications under ESEA will be released publicly on Thursday, October 19. Report cards will be available on RIDE’s web site at 9:00 a.m. that morning. Each LEA will be able to view an embargoed version of their report card on October 13 by 10:00 a.m. These embargoed versions of their report card reflect the data corrections that were identified by each LEA during the review window.

The final administration of NECAP science assessment results in grades 4, 8, and 11 will be made public on Friday, October 20. The announcement will be made in that week’s Field Memo and include a link to the data and report. A revision of the previously released 2016 graduation rates will also be released that day. Each LEA will receive an embargoed copy of its updated data when they receive the school accountability data. All science results are embargoed until the public release.

From other state and federal agencies

2017 School Bus Rebate Program now accepting applications for funds to replace older vehicles and for retrofits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shared the following announcement:

Need help paying for that new school bus or upgrade? EPA is offering an opportunity to receive up to $20,000 per vehicle to replace your older school buses, and up to $6,000 per vehicle for retrofits. Older school buses without emission reduction retrofits emit significant amounts of harmful exhaust, so participating in this program will help improve the health of students and other members of your community.

The 2017 School Bus Rebate Program is now open and applications will be accepted until November 14, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. EST.

Eligible entities include regional, state, or tribal agencies including school districts and municipalities, or private entities that operate school buses under a contract with an entity listed above.

Please visit for the Program Guide with all the details as well as FAQs and the application form. If you have questions, please contact

The EPA will post the selectees and waiting list on line in January 2018 (estimated). For selectees, the purchase order submission deadline for replacement buses and retrofits will be due in April 2018 (estimated). September 2018 (estimated) is the deadline for submitting payment documentation demonstrating installation of retrofits, delivery of replacement buses, and scrappage of old buses. Within one month after receipt of payment documentation, selectees will receive their rebate payment.

Electric School Bus workshop on October 24

The Office of Energy Resources has shared the following announcement:

Save the Date for a Rhode Island Electric School Bus Workshop! At this workshop experts will present on the basics of electric school buses, funding and procurement, and best practices for deployment.

In order to reserve your spot early please register online.

If you have questions, please contact Michelle McCutcheon-Schour or (802) 540-7831.

Study Abroad Scholarships for American high school students

Students – experience a new world and expand your horizons by studying abroad in high school. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs offers scholarships to high school students (ages 15-18) to study abroad for one academic year. International exchange programs give you the opportunity to establish long-lasting ties with people around the globe, promote mutual understanding, learn a new language, and develop global leadership skills. Previous language study is not required.

U.S. high school students can now apply to travel during the 2018-2019 academic year on the following Department of State sponsored study abroad programs:

National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y):

  • November 2, 2017 application deadline
  • Learn German

Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad):

  • December 5, 2017 application deadline
  • Go to Africa, Asia, the Balkans, or the Middle East

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) with Germany:

  • December 11, 2017 application deadline
  • Learn Arabic, Indonesian, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Russian, or Turkish

These merit-based scholarships include international airfare, tuition, and program costs, as well as meals and living accommodations (often with a host family). Gap year students are encouraged to apply as long as they meet the age requirements.

Please note that each program has a separate online application process andapplication deadlines vary from November 2 to December 11. The Department of State is particularly trying to reach young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in a study abroad experience.

You may also find this announcement and other outreach materials on the Study Abroad website.

From other organizations

Barr Foundation grants to support redesign of three Rhode Island high schools

The Barr Foundation of Boston has awarded grants to support high schools in their efforts to leverage the assets within their surrounding communities in order to provide students with a comprehensive program of study.

Of the thirty-one applicants for the funding, eight grants were awarded, two of which support Rhode Island schools:

The grants cover up to two years of planning and design work to redesign their high school to meet the identified needs of their students and communities. This high school model utilizes evidence-based strategies and practices to provide students with credit-bearing learning opportunities in the wider learning ecosystem that includes the myriad educational, business, and non-profit organizations within the surrounding communities.

The redesigned schools will offer students one or more of the following:

  • Anytime-anywhere learning opportunities that enable students to participate in experiential learning and build social capital in the community; and augment the school’s capacity to provide comprehensive, holistic programs of study.
  • Career development experiences that promote students’ awareness of their interests and options, and deepen student engagement in school through connecting the relevance of their coursework to their future plans.
  • Early college experiences that expose students to the environment of post-secondary education and enable students to earn college credits while completing the requirements for their high school diploma.

Rather than peripheral programs, these learning experiences in the ecosystem will be central components of the schools’ programs of study.

The Barr Foundation’s blog provides details on the program and the other schools and organizations that were selected.

Rhode Island participates in the Common Data Project

The New England Secondary School Consortium, of which Rhode Island is a member state, released its fifth annual report on public school performance in New England. The report comprises findings from the Common Data Project, a collaboration between the state education agencies in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island, and the only multi-state data project of its kind. Data specialists from these state agencies have been using consistent procedures and methodologies to collect, calculate, and report on student attainment data since 2009.

Data points include high school graduation rates, dropout rates, college enrollment and college persistence, and the complete results can be found on NESSC’s website. Of particular note for Rhode Island is that the dropout rate decreased significantly from 2009 to 2016, from 10.4 percent to 5.9 percent – second only behind New Hampshire in the consortium.

High school students – get free help applying for financial aid

The College Planning Center of Rhode Island is hosting a series of FAFSA Completion Nights to help students and families fill out the FAFSA, the form all colleges use to award federal financial aid. Many colleges also use data from the FAFSA to award their own funds, so the first step in financing school should be to file the FAFSA!

The FAFSA for the 2018-2019 year will be available on Oct. 1. Rhode Islanders can attend the following sessions for help filling out the form:

  • October 12 at 6:00 p.m. – Rogers High School, Newport
  • October 26 at 5:30 p.m. – Hope High School, Providence
  • November 1 at 6:00 p.m. – North Kingstown High School
  • November 8 at 6:00 p.m. – Coventry High School
  • November 16 at 6:00 p.m. – Shea High School, Pawtucket