LEAPing Into Action

Feb 16, 2021

“Nationally, and in Rhode Island, the costs of the pandemic in education can be seen in the academic costs of students’ unfinished learning, the social-emotional costs of children being without the vital relationships that they deepen with peers and teachers in school buildings, and the economic costs of learning loss for states and our nation. The pandemic has been an equity disaster.”

These are the words of John B. King Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Education who joined us this week virtually to discuss this important issue. These are words that myself and many individuals in our education community agree with and echo. The compounded impacts of COVID-19 have had a devastating effect on student academic and social emotional outcomes across our state and nation. We know that our students will need additional and accelerated supports that meet their unique needs this year.

As a response, we have launched the Learning, Equity and Accelerated Pathways (LEAP) Task Force to help us understand the gravity of the challenge we’re facing and convene partners to help us set a pathway to student success.

In composing this Task Force, we took an inclusive approach, looking to the field for expertise and knowledge. Members are eager to join this crucial initiative and can be found on our LEAP Task Force webpage. Additionally, there will be two rounds of feedback with the Commissioner’s RI Student Council and the Commissioner’s RI Educators of Color Committee.

The Task Force will play a central role in providing recommendations to myself and our team on the priorities and the strategic direction of our educational recovery work in Rhode Island. I am so grateful to the members of this Task Force along with our entire education community for their steadfast commitment to our students and their education.


From the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE)

2. Share Amazing Stories from your Classroom, School or Education Community!

RIDE is asking the entire RI education community to share amazing, heartfelt and uplifting stories to be featured in a number of upcoming RIDE initiatives. As we turn the page on 2020, we want to start of 2021 by sharing and highlighting stories from the classroom that can have a profound positive impact on the rest of our education community. Whether it’s through a story, photo, video or any other creative medium of your choice, we’d love to hear from you. Please email all submissions to fieldmemo@ride.ri.gov.

World Class Talent

3. Educator Course Network (ECN) 2021 Application posted

Alongside the launch of the newly expanded Educator Course Network (ECN), RIDE is excited to invite new providers to apply to be listed on the ECN in the spring of 2021.

With a current listing of over 50 partners on the ECN, this application process will continue to support the development of the ECN as a statewide professional learning marketplace that aligns with key aspects of the Rhode Island Professional Learning Standards and other priority initiatives such as the implementation of high-quality curriculum materials.

All interested professional learning providers that are not currently listed on the ECN should complete and submit the application form. Applications are due by March 19, 2021.

Providers currently listed on the ECN that wish to expand their offerings and update their profile information should refer to specific instructions listed on the ECN site. We expect to notify newly selected partners in early May, while current partners will have profiles updated on an ongoing basis. Please direct questions regarding the ECN to pl@ride.ri.gov.

Excellence in Learning

4. RIDE Extends Testing Windows for State Assessments

RIDE remains committed to supporting schools and leaders who are managing the challenges of teaching and learning during this pandemic. At this time of year, many of our schools are administering the ACCESS for ELLs state assessments, and many more are beginning preparations for the upcoming spring 2021 state assessments administration.

As we proceed with planning for those assessments, we would like to acknowledge the diligence, persistence, and creativity of our educators in the many ways you continue to support student learning while also administering important assessments that will help us all understand how our students are doing in their learning this year.

To assist schools in coordinating in-school administration of the upcoming assessments, RIDE has extended the state testing window for our state assessments this school year. The updated dates are posted online and the full set of testing windows are listed here as follows:

  • ACCESS for ELLs: January 4 – March 12, 2021
  • RICAS (English Language Arts): March 29 – May 14, 2021
  • RICAS (Math): April 12 – May 28, 2021
  • RI SAT School Day with Essay: April 13-15, 2021 (Primary Test Window); April 27-29, 2021 (Make-Up Test Window); see website for paper accommodations dates
  • PSAT10: April 13 – May 5, 2021 (All make-ups must take place within this window)
  • Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessments (ELA, Math, Science): April 5 – May 28, 2021
  • RI NGSA (Science): April 26 – June 4, 2021

If you have any questions about our state assessments, please contact assessment@ride.ri.gov.

5. RIDEMap Will Become the RIDE “Portal” on March 1st; Here is What This Means for You

Starting March 1st, instead of RIDEMap, you will simply log in to portal.ride.ri.gov to access RIDE applications and services: like eCert or the Early Warning System. Your login and password will remain the same. After March 1st, RIDEMap.ride.ri.gov will automatically redirect you to the new site, “portal.ride.ri.gov” The portal is already available, so please feel free to check it out.

6. From the Office of Data and Technology Services

Reminder: the Winter Data Manager’s meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 23rd from 10 A.M. to Noon. Please use this link to register.

Engaged Communities

7. RIDE Seeks Community Input to the Blueprint for Multilingual Learner Success

The RIDE Office of Student, Community & Academic Supports will be hosting a series of workshops in February and March about the new statewide Blueprint for MLL Success initiative. Your input is critical! Each session will be tailored to specific audiences, with two sessions facilitated in Spanish (flyers in Spanish and Portuguese). In the workshop, we’ll gather stakeholder feedback and provide general information about the two draft publications: the Blueprint for MLL Success and Strategic Plan for MLL Success, now available in Spanish and Portuguese. For additional information, please email MLLblueprint@ride.ri.gov.

8. February is CTE Month

February is Career and Technical Educational Month, or CTE Month! This annual campaign by the Association for Career and Technical Education strives to bring national awareness to the value and benefits that career and technical education can offer students.

RIDE is excited to announce that in the coming weeks, we plan to celebrate the achievements of CTE programs across Rhode Island by spotlighting specific programs’ accomplishments, outstanding CTE teachers, innovative work-based learning initiatives, strong industry partnerships, and/or other examples where students are engaged in rigorous experiences preparing them for high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers.

Therefore, please reach out CTE@ride.ri.gov if you are interested in having CTE spotlighted in your school or district and RIDE will work with you to publicly share your story with the field.

9. SurveyWorks Update

Just weeks into our SurveyWorks window, we have already heard from 35,000 members of our school community! Teachers are leading the way, smashing their rates from this time last year. This year we are capturing remote learning experiences so your voices are more important than ever. The survey window closes on March 31st, please visit our SurveyWorks Resource Center for more information. Thank you for your participation and let’s keep it going!

10. College Financial Aid Night – in Spanish!

Attention all High School Juniors, Seniors, and Families– BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! Come Learn about the College Financial Aid Process in Spanish! Discover the different types of financial aid available, what the FAFSA is, and why you need to complete it! Come get your questions answered at the Spanish language Financial Aid Forum on Monday, February 22 at 4:00 p.m. Please RSVP for the Zoom sessions here.

11. Free Tutoring Opportunity Launching with Schoolhouse.world

Schoolhouse.world is a new online platform from Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, that matches students around the world with free tutors. The tutors provide small-group math and SAT prep tutoring for students in grades 6-12, building on the Khan Academy curriculum. Rhode Island is one of two state-level partnerships offering this opportunity to students across the state. Registration is now live on the All Course Network (ACN) and students can sign up here on EnrollRI. There is no deadline for students to sign up (though schools will still need to approve their enrollment via the ACN), no cost to LEAs or students, and no requirement to participate. Please help us spread the word to your students, teachers, parents, and communities! More information on the partnership can be found here.

12. Join the Mailing List to Receive RIDE’s “STEM Opportunities Update”

Please submit contact information to receive announcements of opportunities related to STEM and STEM-related disciplines. The STEM Opportunities Update will include opportunities that RIDE is offering, as well as those that are sent to us from outside organizations, and be shared twice per month during the academic year and once in the summer. Entries will include professional learning opportunities, conference announcements, open-source teaching resources, information to join academic competitions, enrichment ideas, opportunities to share with students, and other items that are specific to STEM and/or STEM-related disciplines (from PK-12). Feel free to share this form with colleagues who may be interested in receiving these updates. See link on the STEM Webpage to submit items. Questions can be sent to carolyn.higgins@ride.ri.gov.

From Outside Organizations

13. Blackstone Valley Prep Senior Andrew Ferretti Named Candidate in U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Andrew Ferretti, a graduating senior at Blackstone Valley Prep, has been named one of more than 4,500 candidates in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2021.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities. Congratulations, Andrew!

14. Everyone has an Opinion on the Economy, but is it an Informed One? 

Introduce your middle and high-school students to economic concepts through the free Online Economics Competition March 15 – April 28, 2021; complete with a State Award Ceremony and the opportunity to compete at the national level!

Two easy steps: 1) Teachers register themselves and student teams (3-4 students each.) 2) Teachers email access codes and instruction to their students who individually take the 35-minute, online exam at school or in their home under the supervision of an educator or parent/guardian. Questions may be directed to Dr. Margaret Brooks at rhodeislandjumpstart@gmail.com.

15. Struggling to Engage your Students? Introduce Money Concepts and Competition

Two Easy Steps for RI High School & Middle School Teachers to Participate in National Personal Finance, March 15-April 23, 2021: 1) Teachers register themselves and their student teams (3-4 students each.) 2) Teachers email access codes and instructions to their students, who individually take the 35-minute, online exam at school or in their home under the supervision of a educator or parent/guardian The top 3 teams in each division receive statewide recognition, and the first place RI High School Challenge team will advance to the online National Semi-Finals. Questions may be directed to Dr. Margaret Brooks at ricouncilforeconed@gmail.com.

16. Junior Achievement’s Annual JA Inspire Event

Junior Achievement of Rhode Island will be hosting our annual JA Inspire event this academic year on a virtual platform and will be launched on June 2nd & 3rd with virtual access all day! Junior Achievement of Rhode Island (JA) is accepting requests for its JA Inpsire Virtual work readiness program, which will be available to all students in grades 8 – 12 this year. To accommodate varying school and teacher needs, there are multiple curriculum delivery options to make participating in the program as easy as possible. Those options can be reviewed on the JA website for middle school and high school delivery. Program requests forms for both middle school and high school are on the JA website, or you can contact Erin Cheschi, director of programs and community partnerships, at (401) 331-3850 x16.