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Rhode Island might overhaul its high school graduation requirements

A new proposal from the Rhode Island Department of Education would add “readiness-based graduation requirements” and a mandate that students show proficiency in civics, computer science, and financial literacy

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green holds a homemade sign to greet students returning to Central High School in Providence in September 2020.Amanda Milkovits/The Boston Globe

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Coronavirus updates

Rhode Island has a high level of transmission: 557.7 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days

Fully vaccinated: 774,304 (of about 1.1 million residents)

New cases: 1,975 (since Friday)

Test-positive rate: 5.2 percent

Currently hospitalized: 184

Total deaths: 2,948

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Leading off

It’s time for another discussion about Rhode Island’s high school graduation requirements.


A new proposal from the Rhode Island Department of Education would add “readiness-based graduation requirements” beginning with the class of 2026 (next year’s high school freshmen), including aligning coursework for college entrance requirements at URI and RIC and a mandate that students show proficiency in civics, computer science, and financial literacy.

The proposal would also “recognize and create flexibility for caregiving youth,” although a complete program for those students hasn’t quite been fleshed out.

The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education will meet at 5:30 p.m. to learn about the proposed changes, but they aren’t likely to be finalized until March or April. The regulations require at least a 30-day public review and a minimum of four public hearings.

You can read all of the proposed changes here.

One of the most significant proposed changes is that rather than requiring students to complete at least 20 core courses (like four years of English and math), students will be required to obtain 20 credits in those subjects. The big difference is that “seat time and instructional minutes shall not be a consideration in the issuance of credit.”

Rhode Island doesn’t require students to pass (or show proficiency) on any standardized exam, and the new regulations appear to remove language that allows individual districts to include assessments as part of their graduation requirements.


The proposed regulations come a month after results on the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) exam showed that only 33 percent of students in grades three through eight showed proficiency in English language arts and 20 percent were proficient in math.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ My latest column: With COVID-19 cases surging, it’s time for Governor Dan McKee to consider a new indoor mask mandate. Read more.

⚓ Leaders in the Rhode Island General Assembly announced Monday that they are committed to bringing the governor’s down payment plan to spend 10 percent of the state’s $1.13 billion in American Rescue Plan to vote in the finance committees next week. Read more.

⚓ The draft versions of new House and Senate maps are drawing charges of “gerrymandering” from challengers who consider the cartography nothing more than incumbent-protection plans. Read more.

⚓ Organizations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut that help people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs are losing workers — and the people they help can’t get the services they need. Read more.

⚓ The driver for a nonemergency medical transport service involved in a fatal crash has been charged with driving under the influence, resulting in death, according to Coventry police. Read more.

Here’s more Globe Rhode Island coverage.

Also in the Globe

⚓ He was sent to prison by a corrupt Boston police detective. Now, 26 years later, prosecutors want him freed. Read more.


⚓ Omicron, an obscure, D-list letter, had grabbed the world stage and had become the dreaded “variant of concern.” Read more.

⚓ The Patriots are officially in the driver’s seat in the AFC. Read more.

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What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at

⚓ It has been 80 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. If you run into any veterans today, make sure to thank them for their service.

⚓ The NAACP Providence Branch is hosting a virtual Freedom Fund Gala at 5:30 p.m.

⚓ The West Warwick Town Council meets at 6 p.m. to consider a tax stabilization agreement for a new food distribution facility for the Providence-based Quality Food Company.

My previous column

I asked the six Democratic candidates for governor to offer some advice to President Joe Biden. They mostly talked about themselves.

If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.

Rhode Island Report podcast

I talked to CCRI President Meghan Hughes about her new role as chair of the board for the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. Listen to all of our podcasts here.

Boston Globe App

You can get alerts about Rhode Island news on the Globe’s app (iOS and Android). Just tap the gear icon, then “Edit Alert Settings,” and choose Rhode Island.


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Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.