Can R.I. hit an ambitious education goal by 2025? Inside Providence’s budget battle

The Providence School Department headquarters.
The Providence School Department headquarters. Lane Turner/Globe Staff/File 2019/Globe Staff

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I’m fairly certain I could place in the top five of the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest if I put my mind to it. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

First, a reminder that there will be no Rhode Map tomorrow as we celebrate the Fourth of July. But we’ll be back in full force on Friday.


For all the talk about Providence’s struggling school system over the week, let’s not forget that there are districts across the state that still have a lot of work to do when it comes to improving student outcomes.

In fact, if Rhode Island is going to hit Governor Gina Raimondo’s goal of getting three out of four students reading at grade level by 2025, test scores need to grow by more than 12 percent a year, according to the state Department of Education’s proficiency progress tracker.

So can it be done?

Here’s the good news: As students become more comfortable taking the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment, or RICAS, exam, it is likely they’ll see natural growth in proficiency rates. And remember, the state’s third graders actually posted the best proficiency rates — 40 percent — in English Language Arts last year. Those students will be in the 10th grade by 2025.

Here’s the bad news: The ability to hit Raimondo’s reading goal depends heavily on urban school districts boosting their test scores. Nearly 30 percent of all of Rhode Island’s students come from Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, or Central Falls.


With the help of the Johns Hopkins University report on Providence and several school reform bills passed at the State House, education does appear to be a top-of-mind issue for state leaders right now. But there is no silver bullet and 2025 isn’t that far away.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

■  If Providence officials can’t come to terms on a budget, what does it say about their ability to address generational challenges like the city’s struggling schools or the underfunded pension system? Don’t miss my look at the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between Mayor Jorge Elorza and the City Council.

■  My colleague Amanda Milkovits has a thought-provoking piece on the former president of Suffolk University and Lesley University, who says she was sexually abused by a priest in Rhode Island.

■  Ed Fitzpatrick reports Mike Steinmetz, Rhode Island’s first cybersecurity officer and its homeland security adviser, has left his job. Steinmetz is joining Providence venture capital firm, College Hill Ventures.

■  Other movers and shakers: Central Falls Superintendent Victor Capellan is leaving his job to become a top aide to Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. Sybil Bailey, whose controversial departure as the head of human relations in Providence made headlines earlier this year, has taken the same job at the Community College of Rhode Island.

■  In Woonsocket last night, Alexander Kithes and Roger G. Jalette Sr. advanced to the general election in a special City Council race.



Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

■  The Providence City Council has scheduled a vote on the city budget for this afternoon. Even if it’s approved, it will still need a second vote next week before it is sent to the mayor’s desk.

■  Are you heading to the parade in Bristol tomorrow? Send pictures and dispatches to dan.mcgowan@globe.com.

■  The Providence Board of Licenses will hold a hearing today on Club Seven, the troubled establishment that has been closed since a man was stabbed and killed early Sunday.

■  Enjoying Rhode Map so far? Do us a favor and encourage your friends to sign up here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you on Friday.

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