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NEW: Pell Unveils Education Strategy for Rhode Island

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell has unveiled his education strategy, “Seizing the Future: A World-Class Education for All”.

According to a release from the Pell campaign, this strategy "ensures all Rhode Islanders have access to high-quality and affordable education. The proposal supports Clay's plan to develop additional pathways for student success in the global economy."

Read Pell Education Proposal HERE

“Education is incredibly important to me, and to my family. I’ve seen first hand the power of education to transform lives, as people share with me their stories of what the Pell Grant meant to them – that it allowed them to go to college, build a career and achieve their full potential, and what it meant that government was directly investing in their future,” said Pell.

“It was this belief in the power of education that lead me to join President Obama’s Department of Education, where I saw some states leading on education, and became frustrated that Rhode Island was not among them. That’s why I’m running for governor – to ensure Rhode Island becomes a leader in education.”

A world-class education

Pell's strategy calls for the following efforts to ensure all Rhode Islanders have access to a world-class education:

  • Establishing the Hope Scholars program to make public higher education affordable again
  • Establishing the Hope Internship program, so that every high school student can get the exposure and experience they need to pursue their dreams.
  • Ensuring CCRI serves as the public post-secondary workforce center for the state.
  • Taking Rhode Island’s high school dropout rate from highest in New England to among the fifth lowest in the nation.
  • Eliminating the backlog of 1300 adults on waiting lists for adult education courses
  • And to developing the global skills our students need by supporting greater use of technology and computer science in classrooms, making Rhode Island the first state in the nation to include international education experience in the coursework of all students, and by partnering with both private partners and the State Department to make Rhode Island the first state where all our higher education institutions make U.S. passports available to students.

Hope Scholars Program

“Rhode Island has fifth highest level of college debt in the country with, the average college graduate debt at $31,156. And it’s no wonder we’re ranked near the bottom - 47th - in terms of our investment in higher education that students have high college debt,” said Pell. “As Governor I will establish the Hope Scholars Program to make public higher education more affordable for students and improve the stability of higher education funding for the long-term.”

In order to address post-secondary affordability and reduce the amount of debt Rhode Island higher education students take on, Pell said there must be a comprehensive approach to tuition and fee stabilization. "It is important to ensure tuition at RIC, URI and CCRI is competitive with peer institutions in order to attract students to these schools. Additionally, it is important to evaluate the financial aid available at these schools and determine where the greatest needs exist and what financial aid programs could be established or increased to address financial aid shortfalls."

Pell states that the Hope Scholars Program will "make public higher education more affordable for students and will improve the stability of higher education funding for the long-term" by:

  • Developing a two-year tuition stabilization program for URI, RIC and CCRI
  • Providing up to two years of free tuition for CCRI students that demonstrate financial need while maintaining certain academic standards
  • Doubling funding in the FY 2016 budget the state higher education grant program from $4 to $8 million, while also increasing the per student cap on individual awards.

Additional proposals Include:

* Funding a pilot program to provide grants for school districts to develop and implement an articulated PK-16 immersion-style language-learning curriculum in a targeted world language. Successful districts will partner with public higher education institutions to ensure continuous course work is available after high school graduation. Recognize the language leaders in education on an annual basis and promote expansion of the program based on experience with initial implementation. The FY 2016 budget will include $300,000 in funding for this pilot program.

* Making Rhode Island the first state in the nation to provide every student attending URI, RIC and CCRI with the opportunity to gain international education experience as part of their higher education course work.

* Ensuring Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to provide Passports to students attending Rhode Island public higher education institutions by partner with the U.S. Department of State to implement this program and negotiate discounted fees and developing business partnerships to support the costs of the program.

* Establishing CCRI as the public post secondary Workforce Center for the state by expanding the number of industry recognized credentials offered and aligning those programs with the areas of growth in the state’s economy.

* Establishing an expedited reimbursement program for school construction aid that will provide aid to school districts during construction of a project as long as accountability measures are met.


Related Slideshow: 10 RI State Education Rankings

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4th Grade Test Scores


Rank: 26 out of 50

State Average Score: 241

National Average Score: 241


Rank: 18 out of 50

State Average Score: 223

National Average Score: 221

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2013 Mathematics and Reading Assessments.

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8th Grade Test Scores


Rank: 27 out of 50

State Average Score: 284

National Average Score: 284


Rank: 25 out of 50

State Average Score: 267

National Average Score: 266

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2013 Mathematics and Reading Assessments.

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High School Dropout Rate

Rank: 10 out of 50

State Dropout Rate: 4.6%

National Average: 3.4%

Source: US Department of Education

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High School Graduation Rate

Rank: 33 out of 50

State Graduation Rate: 76.4%

National Average: 78.2%

Source: US Department of Education

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SAT Scores

Rank: 40 out of 50

State Combined Score Average: 1468

National Average: 1498

Source: College Board

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High School AP Scores

Rank: 33 out of 50

State Percent of Class Scoring 3 or Higher on AP Exam: 14.6%

National Average: 20.1%

Source: College Board

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Chance for Success

Rank: 21 out of 50

Grade: B-

National Average: C+

Source: Education Week Research Center

Note: Index that grades the nation and states on 13 indicators capturing the role that education plays as a person moves from childhood, through the K-12 system, and into college and the workforce.

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K-12 Achievement Index

Rank: 27 out of 50

Grade: D+

National Average: C-

Source: Education Week Research Center

Note: Index that evaluates educational performance on 18 individual indicators that measure current achievement, improvements over time, and poverty-based disparities.

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Per Pupil Expenditure

Rank: 5 out of 50

Amount Spent: $17,666

National Average: $10,938

Source: NEA Research, Estimates Database (2013)

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Average Daily Attendance

Rank: 49 out of 50

State Average: 80.9%

National Average: 96.7%

Source: NEA Research, Estimates Database (2013)

Note: Figure reflects the aggregate attendance of a school during a reporting period divided by the number of days school is in session during this period.


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