The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.
Commissioner: Deborah A. Gist
Primary Point of Contact: Peter McLaren — Science and Technology Specialist
Partner Organizations: Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin; Science Education Leadership Council; Science and Technology Advisory Council; RI STEM Center.
Background: Students are required to complete three lab science courses, with no specified content area, to graduate from high school in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island K–12 Grade Span Expectations in Science are a combination of both grade by grade and grade band standards. The standards are organized into three bands for assessment purposes, K–4, 5–8, and 9–11, however within these bands the standards are broken down into smaller grade spans of K–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8, and high school. Rhode Island science standards are assessed through the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), an assessment consortium comprised of Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire, which assesses students in science in grades 4, 8, and 11. Rhode Island’s current science standards were adopted in 2006, which makes them just over five years old. The standard revision process in Rhode Island is every five years, however due to the anticipated NGSS timeline Rhode Island has placed the revision process on hold in order to be in position to adopt the NGSS once released.
Commitment: Rhode Island has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Rhode Island is dedicated to instituting rigorous and coherent standards in all subjects, which started with the adoption of the CCSS and continued as one of the five priorities in Rhode Island’s Strategic Plan, “Establishing World-Class Standards and Assessments”. Additionally, the current 2006 science standards are up for revision and Rhode Island is placing this process on hold in order to wait for the creation of the NGSS standards, and Rhode Island has stated that they are ready to adopt the NGSS once released.
STEM Involvement: The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has a strong partnership with the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin which assists with numerous aspects surrounding science standards such as providing tools and protocols to support local education agencies, assisting with professional development, and aligning lessons, assignments, and resources to the new standards. These resources will be in place to assist with the NGSS adoption and implementation as well. The Rhode Island STEM Center is another organization that will serve valuable. The Center is committed to initiating and assisting with professional development, research, and facilitating partnerships between PreK-College Educators, teaching candidates, students, and community stakeholders in order to progress STEM education.
Alliances and Infrastructure: Rhode Island has a variety of partnerships and associations which assist with STEM education initiatives, and internally the Rhode Island Department of Education has Education Leadership Councils in Science, Mathematics, Literacy, and Information Technology. The Science Education Leadership Council is comprised of K-12 educators, administrators, higher education faculty, informal science education specialists, and liaisons to the Governor’s Office. This Council works to (1) increase knowledge and use of the NECAP Science Assessment results and other data to support decision making, (2) clarify and strengthen the role and supports provided by professional development organizations and RIDE, (3) act as an eventual advisory resource for schools and districts facing significant challenges in any aspect of science education. Rhode Island also has the Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) in place which is comprised of academic, business, and public sector leaders, that works with state leaders in creating programs and policies with the intention of increasing research and development capacity and promoting entrepreneurship, new company creation, and organization innovations.
Check back soon for more information on Rhode Island's state team and implementation plans